Skip to main content

Full text of "Teutonic mythology : gods and goddesses of the Northland. (Volume 2)"

See other formats




. a. 


Return this book on or before the 
T? f Date stam Ped below. 

eft, mutilation, and _ underlining of books 

University of Illinois Librar^ 



anb Romance 
of Jlortfjern Curope 

Hibrarp of Supreme 

^prtntetr in 
Complete Jform 




IDifctns EMtion 

There are but six hundred and fifty sets made for the world, 
of which this is 




Teutonic Mythology 

Gods and Godde 
of the N 


' ' WA 



yjd Qwtdofe n motl) ' 

Jaoiiifl) wodnijn sdj lo 
sd riw rHiw 




T[W rn-jdt boJri 

J. W. BUEL, Ph.D. 


w rfairiw 

oaorfj ani 

VOL. n. 




(From an etching by I. ore it:. Frulicli.) 

HEIMDAL, the god of light, father of men, sire of kings, wa 
warder of the gates of Valhalla and lived in a castle at tht 
end of the rainbow (Bifrost bridge). He possessed a trumpet 
called Gjallarhorn with which he summoned together the gods at 
Ragnarok. He is represented as the zealous gate-keeper win 
received and admitted to Valhalla the bodies of warriors slait 
in battle, when brought hence by Valkyrie maidens who gath 
ered them from battle-fields. Valhalla was the abode of Odin 
in Asgard which was situated in Gladsheim, the valley of joy 
In this paradise dead warriors were revived and spent all after 
time righting, feasting and drinking as the guests of Odin, pur 
suing those pleasures that most delighted them when in the flesh 

Teutonic Mythology 

Gods and Goddesses 
of the Northland 











J. W. BUEL, Ph.D. 










Myth in Regard to the Lower World 353 

Myth Concerning Mimer's Grove 379 

Mimer's Grove and Regeneration of the World 389 

Gylfaginning's Cosmography 395 

The Word Hel in Linguistic Usage 406 

Border Mountain Between Hel and Nifelhel 414 

Description of Nifelhel 426 

Who the Inhabitants of Hel are 440 

The Classes of Beings in Hel 445 

The Kingdom of Death 447 

Valkyries, Psycho-messengers of Diseases 457 

The Way of Those who Fall by the Sword 462 

Risting with the Spear-point 472 

Loke's Daughter, Hel 476 

Way to Hades Common to the Dead 482 

The Doom of the Dead 485 

The Looks of the Thingstead 505 

The Hades Drink 514 

The Hades Horn Embellished with Serpents 521 


The Lot of the Blessed 528 

Arrival at the Na-gates 531 

The Places of Punishment 534 

The Hall in Nastrands 540 

Loke's Cave of Punishment 552 

The Great World-Mill 565 

The World-Mill makes the Constellations Revolve 579 

Origin of the Sacred Fire 586 

Mundilfore's Identity with Lodur 601 

Nat, Mother of the Gods 608 

Narfi, Nat's Father 611 

Giant Clans Descended from Ymer 624 

Identity of Mimer and Nidhad 630 

Review of Mimer's Names and Epithets 641 

The Mead Myth 644 

The Moon and the Mead 669 

Myths of the Moon-God 680 



Frontispiece Valkyries Bringing the Body of a Slain 
Warrior to Valhalla. 

Thor Destroys the Giant Thrym 456 

The Punishment of Loke 552 

Gefion and King Gylphi 616 


(Part IV. Continued from Volume /.) 




It is necessary to begin this investigation by pointing 
out the fact that there are two versions of the last line of 
strophe 45 in Vafthrudnersmal. The version of this line 
quoted above was enn thadan af aldir alas: "Thence 
(from Lif and Leifthraser in Mimer's grove) races are 
born." Codex Upsalensis has instead ok thar um alldr 
alaz: "And they (Lif and Leifthraser) have there (in 
Mimer's grove) their abiding place through ages." Of 
course only the one of these versions can, from a text- 
historical standpoint, be the original one. But this does 
not hinder both from being equally legitimate from a 
mythological standpoint, providing both date from a time 
when the main features of the myth about Lif and Leif- 
thraser were still remembered. Examples of versions 
equally justifiable from a mythological standpoint can be 
cited from other literatures than the Norse. If we in 
the choice between the two versions pay regard only to 



the age of the manuscripts, then the one in Codex Up- 
salensis, which is copied about the year 1300,* has the 
preference. It would, however, hardly be prudent to 
put the chief emphasis on this fact. Without drawing 
any conclusions, I simply point out the fact that the oldest 
version we possess of the passage says that Lif and Leif- 
thraser live through ages in Mimer's grove. Nor is the 
other version much younger, so far as the manuscript in 
which it is found is concerned, and from a mythological 
standpoint that, too, is beyond doubt correct. 

In two places in the poetic Edda (Vegtamskv, 7, and 
Fjolsvinnsm., 33) occurs the word dsmegir. Both times 
it is used in such a manner that we perceive that it is a 
mythological terminus technicus having a definite, limited 
application. What this application was is not known. 
It is necessary to make a most thorough analysis of the 
passages in order to find the signification of this word 
again, since it is of importance to the subject which we 
are discussing. I shall begin with the passage in Fjols- 

The young Svipdag, the hero in Grogalder and in 
Fjolsvinnsmal, is in the latter poem represented as stand- 
ing before the gate of a citadel which he never saw be- 
fore, but within the walls of which the maid whom fate 
has destined to be his wife resides. Outside of the gate 
is a person who is or pretends to be the gate-keeper, and 
calls himself Fjolsvinn. He and Svipdag enter into con- 
versation. The conversation turns chiefly upon the re- 
markable objects which Svipdag has before his eyes. 

*S. Bugge, Saemund. Edda, xxvi. Thorl. J6nsson's Edda, Snorra St., viii. 



Svipdag asks questions about them, and Fjolsvinn gives 
him information. But before Svipdag came to the cas- 
tle, within which his chosen one awaits him, he has made 
a remarkable journey (alluded to in Grogalder), and he 
has seen strange things (thus in str. 9, 11, 33) which he 
compares with those which he now sees, and in regard to 
which he also desires information from Fjolsvinn. When 
the questions concern objects which are before him at the 
time of speaking, he employs, as the logic of language re- 
quires, the present tense of the verb (as in strophe 35 
segdu mer hvat that bjarg heitir, er ek se brudi a). 
When he speaks of what he has seen before and else- 
where, he employs the past tense of the verb. In strophe 
33 he says: 

Segdu mer that, Fjolsvidr, 
er ek thik fregna mun 
ok ek vilja vita; 
hverr that gordi, 
er ek fyr gard sak 
innan asmaga? 

"Tell me that which I ask you, and which I wish to 
know, Fjolsvinn: Who made that which I saw within 
the castle wall of the dsmegir?"* 

* Looking simply at the form, the strophe may also be translated in the 
following manner : "Tell me, Fjolsvinn, what I ask of you, and what I 
wish to know. Who of the dsmegir made what I saw within the castle 
wall?" Against this formal possibility there are, however, several objec- 
tions of facts. Svipdag would then be asking Fjolsvinn who had made 
that which he once in the past had seen within a castle wall without inform- 
ing Fjolsvinn in regard to which particular castle wall he has reference. 
It also presupposes that Svipdag knew that the dsmegir had made the 
things in question which were within the castle wall, and that he onlry 
wished to complete his knowledge by finding out which one or ones of the 
dsmegir it was that had made them. And finally, it would follow from 
Fjolsvinn's answer that the dwarfs he enumerates are sons of Asas. The 
formal possibility pointed out has also a formal probability against it. 
The gen. pi. dsmaga has as its nearest neighbour gard, not hverr, and 
should therefore be referred to gard. not to hverr, even though both the 
translations gave an equally satisfactory meaning so far as the facts 
related are concerned ; but that is not the case. 


Fjolsvinn answers (str. 34) : 

Uni ok Iri, 
Bari ok Ori, 
Varr ok Vegdrasil, 
Dori ok Uri; 
Dellingr ok vardar 
lithsci alfr, loki. 

"Une and Ire, Bare and Ore, Var and Vegdrasil, Dore 
and Ure, Delling, the cunning elf, is watchman at the 

Thus Svipdag has seen a place where beings called 
dsmegir dwell. It is well enclosed and guarded by the 
elf Delling. The myth must have laid great stress on 
the fact that the citadel was well guarded, since Delling, 
whose cunning is especially emphasised, has been en- 
trusted with this task. The citadel must also have been 
distinguished for its magnificence and for other qualities, 
since what Svipdag has seen within its gates has awak- 
ened his astonishment and admiration, and caused him to 
ask Fjolsvinn about the name of its builder. Fjolsvinn 
enumerates not less than eight architects. At least three 
of these are known by name in other sources namely, 
the "dwarfs" Var (Sn. Edda, ii. 470, 553), Dore, and 
Ore. Both the last-named are also found in the list of 
dwarfs incorporated in Voluspa. Both are said to be 
dwarfs in Dvalin's group of attendants or servants (i 
Dvalins lidi Voluspa, 14). 

*I follow the text in most of the manuscripts, of which Bugge has 
given various versions. One manuscript has in the text, another in the 
margin, Lidscialfr, written in one word (instead of lithsci alfr). Of this 
Munch made Lidskjalfr. The dative loki from lok, a gate (cp. luka loka, 
to close, enclose) has been interpreted as Loki, and thus made the con- 
fusion complete. 



The problem to the solution of which I am struggling 
on namely, to find the explanation of what beings those 
are which are called dsmegir demands first of all that 
we should find out where the myth located their dwelling 
seen by Svipdag, a fact which is of mythological impor- 
tance in other respects. This result can be gainexl, pro- 
viding Dvalin's and Delling's real home and the scene 
of their activity can be determined. This is particularly 
important in respect to Belling, since his office as gate- 
keeper at the castle of the dsmegir demands that he must 
have his home where his duties are required. To some 
extent this is also true of Dvalin, since the field of his 
operations cannot have been utterly foreign to the citadel 
on whose wonders his sub-artists laboured. 

The author of the dwarf-list in Voluspa makes all holy 
powers assemble to consult as to who shall create "the 
dwarfs," the artist-clan of the mythology. The word- 
ing of strophe 10 indicates that on a being by name Mod- 
sognir, Motsognir, was bestowed the dignity of chief* 
of the proposed artist-clan, and that he, with the assist- 
ance of Durin (Durinn), carried out the resolution of the 
gods, and created dwarfs resembling men. The author 
of the dwarf list must have assumed 

That Modsogner was one of the older beings of the 
world, for the assembly of gods here in question took 
place in the morning of time before the creation was com- 

That Modsogner possessed a promethean power of 

*Thar (in the assembly of the gods) var Modsognir mcestr um ordinn 
dverga allra. 



That he either belonged to the circle of holy powers 
himself, or stood in a close and friendly relation to them, 
since he carried out the resolve of the gods. 

Accordingly, we should take Modsogner to be one of 
the more remarkable characters of the mythology. But 
either he is not mentioned anywhere else than in this 
place 1 we look in vain for the name Modsogner else- 
whereor this name is merely a skaldic epithet, which 
has taken the place of a more common name, and which 
by reference to a familiar nota characteristica indicates 
a mythic person well known and mentioned elsewhere. 
It cannot be disputed that the word looks like an epithet. 
Egilsson (Lex. Poet.) defines it as the mead-drinker. 
If the definition is correct, then the epithet were badly 
chosen if it did not refer to Mimer, who originally was 
the sole possessor of the mythic mead, and who daily 
drank of it (Voluspa, 29 dreckr miod Mimir margin 
liver jan). Still nothing can be built simply on the defi- 
nition of a name, even if it is correct beyond a doubt. 
All the indices which are calculated to shed light on a 
question should be collected and examined. Only when 
they all point in the same direction, and give evidence in 
favour of one and the same solution of the problem, the 
latter can be regarded as settled. 

Several of the "dwarfs" created by Modsogner are 
named in Voluspa, 11-13. Among them are Dvalin. 
In the opinion of the author of the list of dwarfs, Dvalin 
must have occupied a conspicuous place among the be- 
ings to whom he belongs, for he is the only one of them 
all who is mentioned as having a number of his own 



kind as subjects (Voluspa, 14). The problem as to 
whether Modsogner is identical with Mimer should 
therefore be decided by the answers to the following 
questions: Is that which is narrated about Modsogner 
also narrated of Mimer? Do the statements which we 
have about Dvalin show that he was particularly con- 
nected with Mimer and with the lower world, the realm 
of Mimer? 

Of Modsogner it. is said (Voluspa, 12) that he was 
m&str ordinn dverga allra: he became the chief of all 
dwarfs, or, in other words, the foremost among all ar- 
tists. Have we any similar report of Mimer? 

The German middle-age poem, "Biterolf," relates that 
its hero possessed a sword, made by Mimer the Old, 
Mime der alte, who was the most excellent smith in the 
world. To be compared with him was not even Wie- 
land (Volund, Wayland), still less anyone else, with 
the one exception of Hertrich, who was Mimer's co-la- 
bourer, and assisted him in making all the treasures he 
produced : 

Zuo siner (Mimer's) meisterschefte 

ich nieman kan gelichen 

in alien fiirsten richen 

an einen, den ich nenne, 

daz man in dar bi erkenne: 

Der war Hertrich genant. 

Durch ir sinne craft 

so hseten sie geselleschaft 

an werke und an alien dingen. (Biterolf, 144.) 

Vilkinasaga, which is based on both German and Norse 



sources, states that Mimer was an artist, in whose work- 
shop the sons of princes and the most famous smiths 
learned the trade of the smith. Among his apprentices 
are mentioned Velint (Volund), Sigurd-Sven, and Ecki- 

These echoes reverberating far down in Christian 
times of the myth about Mimer, as chief of smiths, we 
also perceive in Saxo. It should be remembered what he 
relates about the incomparable treasures which are pre- 
served in Gudmund-Mimer's domain, among which in 
addition to those already named occur arma humanorum 
corporum* hdbitu grandiora (i., p. 427), and about Mimin- 
gus, who possesses the sword of victory, and an arm- 
ring which produces wealth (i. 113, 114). If we consult 
the poetic Edda, we find Mimer mentioned as Hodd- 
Mimer, Treasure-Mimer (Vafthr. 45) ; as naddgofugr 
jotunn, the giant celebrated for his weapons (Grogalder, 
14) ; as Hoddrofnir, or Hodd-dropnir, the treasure-drop- 
ping one (Sigrdr., 13) ; as Baugreginn, the king of the 
gold-rings (Solarlj., 56). And as shall be shown here- 
after, the chief smiths are in the poetic Edda put in con- 
nection with Mimer as the one on whose fields they dwell, 
or in whose smithy they work. 

In the mythology, artistic and creative powers are 
closely related to each other. The great smiths of the 
Rigveda hymns, the Ribhus, make horses for Indra, 
create a cow and her calf, make from a single goblet three 
equally good, diffuse vegetation over the fields, and make 
brooks flow in the valleys (Rigveda, iv. 34, 9; iv. 38, 8; 
i. 20, 6, 110, 3, and elsewhere). This they do although 



they are "mortals," who by their merits acquire immor- 
tality. In the Teutonic mythology Sindre and Brok 
forge from a pig-skin Frey's steed, which looks like a 
boar, and the sons of Ivalde forge from, gold locks that 
grow like other hair. The ring Draupnir, which the 
"dwarfs" Sindre and Brok made, possesses itself creative 
power and produces every ninth night eight gold rings 
of equal weight with itself (Skaldsk., 37). The 
"mead-drinker" is the chief and master of all these ar- 
tists. And on a closer examination it appears that Mi- 
mer's mead-well is the source of all these powers, which 
in the mythology are represented as creating, forming, 
and ordaining with wisdom. 

In Havamal (138-141) Odin relates that there was a 
time when he had not yet acquired strength and wisdom. 
But by self-sacrifice he was able to prevail on the cele- 
brated Bolthorn's son, who dwells in the deep and has 
charge of the mead-fountain there and of the mighty 
runes, to give him (Odin) a drink from the precious 
mead, drawn from Odr&rir: 

Tha nam ec frovaz Then I began to bloom 

oc frodr vera and to be wise, 

oc vaxa oc vel hafaz; and to grow and thrive; 

ord mer af ordi word came to me 

orz leitadi, from word, 

verc mer af verki deed came to me 

vercs leitadi. from deed. 

It is evident that Odin here means to say that the first 
drink which he received from Mimer's fountain was the 
turning-point in his life ; that before that time he had not 



blossomed, had made no progress in wisdom, had pos- 
sessed no eloquence nor ability to do great deeds, but that 
he acquired all this from the power of the mead. This 
is precisely the same idea as we constantly meet with in 
Rigveda, in regard to the soma-mead as the liquid from 
which the gods got creative power, wisdom, and desire 
to accomplish great deeds. Odin's greatest and most 
celebrated achievement was that he, with his brothers, 
created Midgard. Would it then be reasonable to sup- 
pose that he performed this greatest and wisest of his 
works before he began to develop fruit, and before he got 
wisdom and the power of activity? It must be evident 
to everybody that this would be unreasonable. It is 
equally manifest that among the works which he con- 
sidered himself able to perform after the drink from Mi- 
mer's fountain had given him strength, we must place in 
the front rank those for which he is most celebrated : the 
slaying of the chaos-giant Ymer, the raising of the crust 
of the earth, and the creation of Midgard. This could 
not be said more clearly than it is stated in the above 
strophe of Havamal, unless Odin should have specifically 
mentioned the works he performed after receiving the 
drink. From Mimer's fountain and from Mimer's hand 
Odin has, therefore, received his creative power and his 
wisdom. We are thus able to understand why Odin re- 
garded this first drink from Odrserer so immensely im- 
portant that he could resolve to subject himself to the 
sufferings which are mentioned in strophes 138 and 139. 
But when Odin by a single drink from Mimer's foun- 
tain is endowed with creative power and wisdom, how 



can the conclusion be evaded, that the myth regarded 
Mimer as endowed with Promethean power, since it 
makes him the possessor of the precious fountain, makes 
him drink therefrom every day, and places him nearer 
to the deepest source and oldest activity of these forces 
in the universe than Odin himself? The given and 
more instantaneous power, thanks to which Odin was 
made able to form the upper world, came from the lower 
world and from Mimer. The world-tree has also grown 
out of the lower world and is Mimer's tree, and receives 
from his hands its value. Thus the creative power with 
which the dwarf-list in Voluspa endowed the "mead- 
drinker" is rediscovered in Mimer. It is, therefore, per- 
fectly logical when the mythology makes him its first 
smith and chief artist, and keeper of treasures and the 
ruler of a group of dwarfs, underground artists, for 
originally these were and remained creative forces per- 
sonified, just as Rigveda's Rubhus, who smithied flow- 
ers and grass, and animals, and opened the veins of the 
earth for fertilising streams, while they at the same time 
made implements and weapons. 

That Mimer was the profound counsellor and faithful 
friend of the Asas has already been shown. Thus we 
discover in Mimer Modsogner's governing position 
among the artists, his creative activity, and his friendly 
relation to the gods. 

Dvalin, created by Modsogner, is in the Norse sagas 
of the middle ages remembered as an extraordinary ar- 
tist. He is there said to have assisted in the fashioning 
of the sword Tyrfing (Fornald. Saga, i. 436), of Freyja's 

2 363 


splendid ornament Brisingamen, celebrated also in Anglo- 
Saxon poetry (Fornald. Saga, i. 391). In the Snofrid 
song, which is attributed to Harald Fairhair, the drapa 
is likened unto a work of art, which rings forth from 
beneath the fingers of Dvalin (hrynr fram ur Dvalin's 
grap Fornm. Saga, x. 208; Flat., i. 582). This beau- 
tiful poetical figure is all the more appropriately applied, 
since Dvalin was not only the producer of the beautiful 
works of the smith, but also sage and skald. He was 
one of the few chosen ones who in time's morning were 
permitted to taste of Mimer's mead, which therefore is 
called his drink (Dvalin's drykkr Younger Edda, 
i. 246). 

But in the earliest antiquity no one partook of this 
drink who did not get it from Mimer himself. 

Dvalin is one of the most ancient rune-masters, one 
of those who brought the knowledge of runes to those 
beings of creation who were endowed with reason (Hav- 
amal, 143). But all knowledge of runes came origin- 
ally from Mimer. As skald and runic scholar, Dvalin, 
therefore, stood in the relation of disciple under the ruler 
of the lower world. 

The myth in regard to the runes (cp. No. 26) men- 
tioned three apprentices, who afterwards spread the 
knowledge of runes each among his own class of be- 
ings. Odin, who in the beginning was ignorant of the 
mighty and beneficent rune-songs (Havamal, 138-143), 
was by birth Mimer's chief disciple, and taught the 
knowledge of runes among his kinsmen, the Asas (Hav- 
amal, 143), and among men, his proteges (Sigdrifm., 



18). The other disciples were Dain (Ddinn) and Dva- 
lin (Dvalinn). Dain, like Dvalin, is an artist created 
by Modsogner (Voluspa, 11, Hauks Codex). He is 
mentioned side by side with Dvalin, and like him he has 
tasted the mead of poesy (munnvigg Ddins Fornm. 
Saga, v. 209). Dain and Dvalin taught the runes to 
their clans, that is, to elves and dwarfs (Havamal, 143). 
Nor were the giants neglected. They learned the runes 
from Asvidr. Since the other teachers of runes belong 
to the clans, to which they teach the knowledge of runes 
"Odin among Asas, Dain among elves, Dvalin among 
dwarfs" there can be no danger of making a mistake, 
if we assume that Asvidr was a giant. And as Mimer 
himself is a giant, and as the name Asvidr (=Asvinr) 
means Asa-friend, and as no one particularly no one 
among the giants has so much right as Mimer to this 
epithet, which has its counterpart in Odin's epithet, 
Mirn^s vinr (Mimer's friend), then caution dictates that 
we keep open the highly probable possibility that Mimer 
himself is meant by Asvidr. 

All that has here been stated about Dvalin shows that 
the mythology has referred him to a place within the do- 
main of Mimer's activity. We have still to point out 
two statements in regard to him. Sol is said to have 
been his leika (Fornald., i. 475; Allvism, 17; Younger 
Edda, i. 472, 593). Leika, as a feminine word and re- 
ferring to a personal object, means a young girl, a mai- 
den, whom one keeps at his side, and in whose amuse- 
ment one takes part at least as a spectator. The exam- 
ples which we have of the use of the word indicate that 



the leika herself, and the person whose leika she is, are 
presupposed to have the same home. Sisters are called 
leikur, since they live together. Parents can call a fos- 
ter-daughter their leika. In the neuter gender leika means 
a plaything, a doll or toy, and even in this sense it can 
rhetorically be applied to a person. 

In the same manner as Sol is called Dvalin's leika, so 
the son of Nat and Delling, Dag, is called leikr Dvalins, 
the lad or youth with whom Dvalin amused himself 
(Fornspjal., 24). 

We have here found two points of contact between the 
mythic characters Dvalin and Delling. Dag, who is 
Dvalin's leikr, is Delling's son. Delling is the watch- 
man of the castle of the dsmegir, which Dvalin's artists 

Thus the whole group of persons among whom Dvalin 
is placed Mimer, who is his teacher; Sol, who is his 
leika; Dag, who is his leikr; Nat, who is the mother of 
his leikr; Delling, who is the father of his leikr have 
their dwellings in Mimer's domain, and belong to the 
subterranean class of the numina of Teutonic mythol- 

From regions situated below Midgard's horizon, Nat, 
Sol, and Dag draw their chariots upon the heavens. On 
the eastern border of the lower world is the point of de- 
parture for their regular journeys over the heavens of 
the upper world ("the upper heavens," upphiminn - 
Voluspa, 3; Vafthr., 20, and elsewhere; uppheimr 
Alvm., 13). Nat has her home and, as shall be shown 
hereafter, her birthplace in dales beneath the ash Ygdra- 



sil. There she takes her rest after the circuit of her 
journey has been completed. In the lower world Sol 
and Nat's son, Dag, also have their halls where they 
take their rest. But where Delling's wife and son have 
their dwellings there we should also look for Delling's 
own abode. As the husband of Nat and the father of 
Dag, Delling occupies the same place among the divini- 
ties of nature as the dawn and the glow of sunrise among 
the phenomena of nature. And outside the doors of 
Delling, the king of dawn, mythology has also located 
the dwarf thjodreyrir ("he who moves the people"), who 
.sings songs of awakening and blessing upon the world : 
"power to the Asas, success to the elves, wisdom to 
Hroptatyr" (afl asom, enn alfum frama, hyggio Hrop- 
taty Havam., 160). 

Unlike his kinsmen, Nat, Dag, and Sol, Delling has no 
duty which requires him to be absent from home a part of 
the day. The dawn is merely a reflection of Midgard's 
eastern horizon from Delling's subterranean dwelling. 
It can be seen only when Nat leaves the upper heaven and 
before Dag and Sol have come forward, and it makes no 
journey around the world. From a mythological stand- 
point it would therefore be possible to entrust the keeping 
of the castle of the dsmegir to the elf of dawn. The sun- 
set-glow has another genius, Billing, and he, too, is a crea- 
tion of Modsogner, if the dwarf-list is correct (Voluspa, 
12). Sol, who on her way is pursued by two giant mon- 
sters in wolf-guise, is secure when she comes to her forest 
of the Yarns behind the western horizon ( til varna vridar 
Grimn., 30). There in western halls (Vegtamskv., 11) 



dwells Billing, the chief of the Varns (Billing veold Ver- 
num Cod. Exon., 320). There rests his daughter Rind 
bright as the sun on her bed, and his body-guard keeps 
watch with kindled lights and burning torches (Havam., 
100). Thus Billing is the watchman of the western 
boundary of Mimer's domain, Delling of the eastern. 

From this it follows: 

That the citadel of the dsmegir is situated in Mimer's 
lower world, and there in the regions of the elf of dawn. 

That Svipdag, who has seen the citadel of the dsmegir, 
has made a journey in the lower world before he found 
Menglad and secured her as his wife. 

The conclusion to which we have arrived in regard to 
the subterranean situation of the citadel is entirely con- 
firmed by the other passage in the poetic Edda, where the 
dsmegir are mentioned by this name. Here we have an 
opportunity of taking a look within their castle, and of 
seeing the hall decorated with lavish splendour for the re- 
ception of an expected guest. 

Vegtamskvida tells us that Odin, being alarmed in re- 
gard to the fate of his son Balder, made a journey to the 
lower world for the purpose of learning from a vala what 
foreboded his favourite son. When Odin had rode 
through Nifelhel and come to green pastures (foldvegr), 
he found there below a hall decorated for festivity, and 
he asks the prophetess : 

hvseim eru bekkir 
baugum sanir, 
flset fagrlig 
floth gulli? 



"For whom are the benches strewn with rings and the 
gold beautifully scattered through the rooms?" 
And the vala answers: 

Her staendr Balldri 
of bruggin miodr, 
skirar vseigar, 
liggr skiolldr yfir 
sen asmegir 
i ofvseni. 

"Here stands for Balder mead prepared, pure drink; 
shields are overspread, and the asmegir are waiting im- 

Thus there stands in the lower world a hall splendidly 
decorated awaiting Balder's arrival. As at other great 
feasts, the benches are strewn (cp. breida bekki, strd 
bekki, bua bekki} with costly things, and the pure won- 
derful mead of the lower world is already served as an 
offering to the god. Only the shields which cover the 
mead-vessel need to be lifted off and all is ready for the 
feast. Who or what persons have, in so good season, 
made these preparations? The vala explains when she 
mentions the asmegir and speaks of their longing for Bal- 
der. It is this longing which has found utterance in the 
preparations already completed for his reception. Thus, 
when Balder gets to the lower world, he is to enter the 
citadel of the asmegir and there be welcomed by a sacri- 
fice, consisting of the noblest liquid of creation, the 
strength-giving soma~madhu of Teutonic mythology. In 
the old Norse heathen literature there is only one more 
place where we find the word asmegir, and that is in Olaf 



Trygveson's saga, ch. 16 (Heimskringla). For the sake 
of completeness this passage should also be considered, 
and when analysed it, too, sheds much and important 
light on the subject. 

We read in this saga that Jarl Hakon proclaimed 
throughout his kingdom that the inhabitants should look 
after their temples and sacrifices, and so was done. Jarl 
Hakon's hird-skald, named Einar Skalaglam, who in the 
poem "Vellekla" celebrated his deeds and exploits, men- 
tions his interest in the heathen worship, and the good re- 
sults this was supposed to have produced for the jarl 
himself and for the welfare of his land. Einar says : 

Ok hertharfir hverfa 
hlakkar mots til biota, 
raudbrikar fremst raekir 
rikr, asmegir, sliku. 
Nu graer jord sem adan, &c. 

Put in prose: Ok hertharfir asmegir hverfa til biota; 
hlakkar mots raudbrikar rikr rcekir fremst sliku. Nu 
grazr jord sem adan. 

Translation : "And the asmegir required in war, turn 
themselves to the sacrificial feasts. The mighty pro- 
moter of the meeting of the red target of the goddess of 
war has honour and advantage thereof. Now grows the 
earth green as heretofore." 

There can be no doubt that "the asmegir required in 
war" refer to the men in the territory ruled by Hakon, 
and that "the mighty promoter of the meeting of the red 
target of the goddess of war" refers to the warlike Hakon 
himself, and hence the meaning of the passage in its plain 



prose form is simply this: "Hakon's men again devote 
themselves to the divine sacrifices. This is both an hon- 
our and an advantage to Hakon, and the earth again 
yields bountiful harvests." 

To these thoughts the skald has given a garb common 
in poetry of art, by adapting them to a mythological back- 
ground. The persons in this background are the asmegir 
and a mythical being called "the promoter of the red tar- 
get," raudbrikar r&kir. The persons in the foreground 
are the men in Hakon's realm and Hakon himself. The 
persons in the foreground are permitted to borrow the 
names of the corresponding persons in the background, 
but on the condition that the borrowed names are fur- 
nished with adjectives which emphasise the specific dif- 
ference between the original mythic lenders and the real 
borrowers. Thus Hakon's subjects are allowed to bor- 
row the appellation asmegir, but this is then furnished 
with the adjective hertharfir (required in war), whereby 
they are specifically distinguished from the asmegir of the 
mythical background, and Hakon on his part is allowed 
to borrow the appellation raudbrikar rcekir (the promoter 
of the red target), but this appellation is then furnished 
with the adjective phrase hlakkar mots (of the meeting 
of the goddess of war), whereby Hakon is specifically dis- 
tinguished from the raudbrikar r&kir of the mythical 

The rule also requires that, at least on that point of 
which the skald happens to be treating, the persons in the 
mythological background should hold a relation to each 
other which resembles, and can be compared with, the re- 


lation between the persons in the foreground. Hakon's 
men stand in a subordinate relation to Hakon himself; 
and so must the dsmegir stand in a subordinate relation 
to that being which is called raudbrikar rakir, providing 
the skald in this strophe as in the others has produced a 
tenable parallel. Hakon is, for his subjects, one who ex- 
horts them to piety and fear of the gods. Raudbrikar 
rcekir, his counterpart in the mythological background, 
must have been the same for his dsmegir. Hakon's sub- 
jects offer sacrifices, and this is an advantage and an hon- 
our to Hakon, and the earth grows green again. In the 
mythology the dsmegir must have held some sacrificial 
feast, and raudbrikar rcekir must have had advantage and 
honour, and the earth must have regained its fertility. 
Only on these conditions is the figure of comparison to 
the point, and of such a character that it could be pre- 
sented unchallenged to heathen ears familiar with the 
myths. It should be added that Einar's greatness as a 
skald is not least shown by his ability to carry out logi- 
cally such figures of comparison. We shall later on give 
other examples of this. 

Who is, then, this raudbrikar rcekir, "the promoter of 
the red target ?" 

In the mythological language raudbrik (red target) 
can mean no other object than the sun. Compare rodull, 
which is frequently used to designate the sun. If this 
needed confirmation, then we have it immediately at hand 
in the manner in which the word is applied in the continu- 
ation of the paraphrase adapted to Hakon. A common 
paraphrase for the shield is the sun with suitable adjec- 



tives, and thus raudbrik is applied here. The adjective 
phrase is here hlakkar mots, "of the meeting of the war- 
goddess" (that is, qualifying the red target), whereby 
the red target (= sun), which is an attribute of the 
mythic r&kir of the background, is changed to a shield, 
which becomes an attribute of the historical r&kir of the 
foreground, namely Hakon jarl, the mighty warrior. 
Accordingly, raudbrikar rcekir of the mythology must be 
a masculine divinity standing in some relation to the 

This sun-god must also have been upon the whole a 
god of peace. Had he not been so, but like Hakon a 
war-loving shield-bearer, then the paraphrase hlakkar 
mots raudbrikar rakir would equally well designate him 
as Hakon, and thus it could not be used to designate Ha- 
kon alone, as it then would contain neither a nota charac- 
teristica for him nor a differentia specifica to distinguish 
him from the mythic person, whose epithet raudbrikar 
r&kir he has been allowed to borrow. 

This peaceful sun-god must have descended to the 
lower world and there stood in the most intimate relation 
with the dsmegir referred to the domain of Mimer, for he 
is here represented as their chief and leader in the path 
of piety and the fear of the gods. The myth must have 
mentioned a sacrificial feast or sacrificial feasts celebrated 
by the dsmegir. From this or these sacrificial feasts the 
peaceful sun-god must have derived advantage and hon- 
our, and thereupon the earth must have regained a fer- 
tility, which before that had been more or less denied it. 

From all this it follows with certainty that raudbrikar 



rcekir of the mythology is Balder. The fact suggested 
by the Vellekla strophe above analysed, namely, that Bal- 
der, physically interpreted, is a solar divinity, the mytho- 
logical scholars are almost a unit in assuming to be the 
case on account of the general character of the Balder 
myth. Though Balder was celebrated for heroic deeds 
he is substantially a god of peace, and after his descent to 
the lower world he is no longer connected with the feuds 
and dissensions of the upper world. We have already 
seen that he was received in the lower world with great 
pomp by the asmegir, who impatiently awaited his arri- 
val, and that they sacrifice to him that bright mead of 
the lower world, whose wonderfully beneficial and brac- 
ing influence shall be discussed below. Soon afterwards 
he is visited by Hermod. Already before Balder's 
funeral pyre, Hermod upon the fastest of all steeds has- 
tened to find him in the lower world (Gylfag., 51, 52), 
and Hermod returns from him and Nanna with the ring 
Draupnir for Odin, and with a veil for the goddess of 
earth, Fjorgyn-Frigg. The ring from which other rings 
drop, and the veil which is to beautify the goddess of 
earth, are symbols of fertility. Balder, the sun-god, had 
for a long time before his death been languishing. Now 
in the lower world he is strengthened with the bracing 
mead of Mimer's domain by the asmegir who gladly give 
offerings, and the earth regains her green fields. 

Hakon's men are designated in the strophe as hertharfir 
asmegir. When they are permitted to borrow the name 
of the asmegir, then the adjective hertharfir, if chosen 
with the proper care, is to contain a specific distinction be- 



tween them and the mythological beings whose name they 
have borrowed. In other words, if the real dsmegir 
were of such a nature that they could be called hertharfir, 
then that adjective would not serve to distinguish Ha- 
kon's men from them. The word hertharfir means 
"those who are needed in war," "those who are to be used 
in war." Consequently, the dsmegir are beings who are 
not to be used in war, beings whose dwelling, environ- 
ment, and purpose suggest a realm of peace, from which 
the use of weapons is banished. 

Accordingly, the parallel presented in Einar's strophe, 
which we have now discussed, is as follows : 


Peaceful beings of the lower 
world (asmegir). 

at the instigation of their 


the sun-god Balder (raudbri- 
kar raekir). 

go to offer sacrifices. 

The peaceful Balder is there- 
by benefited. 

The earth grows green again. 

ok asmegir, 
hverfa til biota; 
raudbrikar rikr raekir 

fremst sliku. 
Nu graer jordsem adan. 


Warlike inhabitants of the 
earth (hertharfir asme- 

at the instigation of their 

the shield's Balder, Hakon 
(hlakkar mots raudbri- 
kar raekir), 

go to offer sacrifices. 

The shield's Balder is thereby 

The earth grows green again, 

ok hertharfir asmegir 

hverfa til biota 

hlakkar mots raudbrikar rikr 


fremst sliku. 
Nu grser jord sem adan. 

In the background which Einar has given to his poeti- 
cal paraphrase, we thus have the myth telling how the 



sun-god Balder, on his descent to the lower world, was 
strengthened by the soma-sacrifice brought him by the 
dsmegir, and how he sent back with Hermod the treas- 
ures of fertility which had gone with him and Nanna to 
the lower world, and which restored the fertility of the 

To what category of beings do the dsmegir then be- 
long? We have seen the word applied as a technical 
term in a restricted sense. The possibilities of applica- 
tion which the word with reference to its definition sup- 
plies are: 

(1) The word may be used in the purely physical 
sense of Asa-sons, Asa-descendants. In this case the 
subterranean dsmegir would be by their very descent 
members of that god-clan that resides in Asgard, and 
whose father and clan-patriarch is Odin. 

(2) The word can be applied to men. They are the 
children of the Asa- father in a double sense: the first 
human pair was created by Odin and his brothers 
(Volusp., 16, 17; Gylfag., 9), and their offspring are 
also in a moral sense Odin's children, as they are sub- 
ject to his guidance and care. He is Alfather, and the 
father of the succeeding generations (allfadir, aldafadir). 
A word resembling dsmegir in character is dsasynir, and 
this is used in Allvismal, 16, in a manner which shows 
that it does not refer to any of those categories of beings 
that are called gods (see further. No. 62)* The concep- 

*Sol Tieitir med monnom, 
enn sunna med godum, 
Ualla dvergar Dvalin's leika 
eyglo iotnar, 
alfar fagra hvel 
alscir asa synir. 



tion of men as sons of the gods is also implied in the all 
mankind embracing phrase, megir Heimdallar (Volusp., 
1), with which the account of Rig-Heimdal's journey on 
the earth and visit to the patriarchs of the various classes 
is connected.* 

The true meaning of the word in this case is deter- 
mined by the fact that the dsmegir belong to the dwellers 
in the lower world already before the death of Balder, 
and that Balder is the first one of the Asas and sons of 
Odin who becomes a dweller in the lower world. To 
this must be added, that if dsmegir meant Asas, Einar 
would never have called the inhabitants of Norway, the 
subjects of jarl Hakon, hertharfir dsmegir, for hertharfir 
the Asas are themselves, and that in the highest degree. 
They constitute a body of more or less warlike persons, 
who all have been "needed in conflict" in the wars around 
Asgard and Midgard, and they all, Balder included, are 
gods of war and victory. It would also have been 
malapropos to compare men with Asas on an occasion 
when the former were represented as bringing sacrifices 
to the gods ; that is, as persons subordinate to them and 
in need of their assistance. 

The dsmegir are, therefore, human beings excluded 
from the surface of the earth, from the mankind which 
dwell in Midgard, and are inhabitants of the lower world, 
where they reside in a splendid castle kept by the elf of 
dawn, Delling, and enjoy the society of Balder, who de- 
scended to Hades. To subterranean human beings re- 

*Cp. also Gylfag.. 9, in regard to Odin : Ok fyrir thvi ma harm heita 
Allfodr, at hann er fadir alra godanna ok manna ok alls thess, er af honom 
ok hans krapti var fullgjort. 



fers also Grimnismal, 21, which says that men (mennzkir 
menn) dwell under the roots of Ygdrasil; and Allvismal, 
16 (to be compared with 18, 20, and other passages), 
and Skirnersmal, 34, which calls them dslithar, a word 
which Gudbrand Vigfusson has rightly assumed to be 
identical with dsmegir. 

Thus it is also demonstrated that the dsmegir are iden- 
tical with the subterranean human persons Lif and Leif- 
thraser and their descendants in Mimer's grove. The 
care with which the mythology represents the citadel of 
the dsmegir kept, shown by the fact that the elf Belling, 
the counterpart of Heimdal in the lower world, has been 
entrusted with its keeping, is intelligible and proper when 
we know that it is of the greatest importance to shield 
Lif and Leifthraser's dwelling from all ills, sickness, age, 
and moral evil (see above). It is also a beautiful poetic 
thought that it is the elf of the morning dawn he out- 
side of whose door the song of awakening and bliss is 
sung to the world who has been appointed to watch 
those who in the dawn of a new world shall people the 
earth with virtuous and happy races. That the dsmegir 
in the lower world are permitted to enjoy the society of 
Balder is explained by the fact that Lif and Leifthraser 
and their offspring are after Ragnarok to accompany Bal- 
der to dwell under his sceptre, and live a blameless life 
corresponding to his wishes. They are to be his disci- 
ples, knowing their master's commandments and having 
them written in their hearts. 

We have now seen that the dsmegir already before 
Balder's death dwell in Mimer's grove. We have also 



seen that Svipdag on his journey in the lower world had 
observed a castle, which he knew belonged to the dsmegir. 
The mythology knows two fimbul-winters : the former 
raged in time's morning, the other is to precede Rag- 
narok. The former occurred when Freyja, the goddess 
of fertility, was treacherously delivered into the power of 
the frost-giants and all the air was blended with corrup- 
tion (Volusp., 26) ; when there came from the Elivogs 
stinging, ice-cold arrows of frost, which put men to death 
and destroyed the greenness of the earth ( Pornspjallsl- 
jod) ; when King Snow ruled, and there came in the 
northern lands a famine which compelled the people to 
emigrate to the South (Saxo, i. 415). Svipdag made his 
journey in the lower world during the time preceding the 
first fimbul-winter. This follows from the fact that it 
was he who liberated Freyja, the sister of the god of the 
harvests, from the .power of the frost-giants (see Nos. 
96-102). Lif and Leifthraser were accordingly already 
at that time transferred to Mimer's grove. This ought to 
have occurred before the earth and her inhabitants were 
afflicted by physical and moral evil, while there still could 
be found undefiled men to be" saved for the world to come ; 
and we here find that the mythology, so far as the records 
make it possible for us to investigate the matter, has log- 
ically met this claim of poetic justice. 



In connection with the efforts to determine the age 
of the Teutonic myths, and their kinship with the other 

3 379 


Aryan (Indo-European) mythologies, the fact deserves 
attention that the myth in regard to a subterranean grove 
and the human beings there preserved for a future regen- 
erated world is also found among the Iranians, an Asiatic 
race akin to the Teutons. The similarity between the 
Teutonic and Iranian traditions is so conspicuous that the 
question is irresistible Whether it is not originally, from 
the standpoint of historical descent, one and the same 
myth, which, but little affected by time, has been preserved 
by the Teutonic Aryans around the Baltic, and by the 
Iranian Aryans in Baktria and Persia? But the answer 
to the question requires the greatest caution. The psy- 
chological similarity of races may, on account of the lim- 
itations of the human fancy, and in the midst of similar 
conditions and environments, create myths which resem- 
ble each other, although they were produced spontaneously 
by different races in different parts of the earth. This 
may happen in the same manner as primitive implements, 
tools, and dwellings which resemble each other may have 
been invented and used by races far separated from each 
other, not by the one learning from the other how these 
things were to be made, nor on account of a common 
descent in antiquity. The similarity is the result of 
similar circumstances. It was the same want which was 
to be satisfied; the same human logic found the manner 
of satisfying the want; the same materials offered them- 
selves for the accomplishment of the end, and the same 
universal conceptions of form were active in the develop- 
ment of the problems. Comparative mythology will 
never become a science in the strict sense of this word 



before it ceases to build hypotheses on a solitary similarity, 
or even on several or many resemblances between mytho- 
logical systems geographically separated, unless these 
resemblances unite themselves and form a whole, a myth- 
ical unity, and unless it appears that this mythical unity 
in turn enters as an element into a greater complexity, 
which is similar in fundamental structure and similar in 
its characteristic details. Especially should this rule be 
strictly observed when we compare the myths of peoples 
who neither by race nor language can be traced back to 
a prehistoric unity. But it is best not to relax the severity 
of the rules even when we compare the myths of peoples 
who, like the Teutons, the Iranians, and the Rigveda- 
Aryans, have the same origin and same language; who 
through centuries, and even long after their separation, 
have handed down from generation to generation similar 
mythological conceptions and mythical traditions. I trust 
that, as this work of mine gradually progresses, a suf- 
ficient material of evidence for the solution of the above 
problem will be placed in the hands of my readers. I now 
make a beginning of this by presenting the Iranian myth 
concerning Jima's grove and the subterranean human 
beings transferred to it. 

In the ancient Iranian religious documents Jima is a 
holy and mighty ancient being, who, however, does not 
belong to the number of celestial divinities which surround 
the highest god, Ahuramazda, but must be counted among 
"the mortals," to the oldest seers and prophets of antiq- 
uity. A hymn of sacrifice, dedicated to the sacred mead, 
the liquid of inspiration (homa, thesoma and soma-madhu 


of the Rigveda-Aryans, the last word being the same as 
our word mead}, relates that Jima and his father were 
the first to prepare the mead of inspiration for the material 
world ; that he, Jima, was the richest in honour of all who 
had been born, and that he of all mortals most resembled 
the sun. In his kingdom there was neither cold nor heat, 
neither frost nor drought, neither aging nor death. A 
father by the side of his son resembled, like the son, a 
youth of fifteen years. The evil created by the demons 
did not cross the boundaries of Jima's world (The 
Younger Jasna, ch. 9). 

Jima was the favourite of Ahuramazda, the highest 
god. Still he had a will of his own. The first mortal 
with whom Ahuramazda talked was Jima, and he taught 
him the true faith, and desired that Jima should spread 
it among the mortals. But Jima answered: "I am not 
suited to be the bearer and apostle of the faith, nor am 
I believed to be so" (Vendidad}. [In this manner it is 
explained why the true doctrine did not become known 
among men before the reformer Zarathustra came, and 
why Jima the possessor of the mead of inspiration, never- 
theless, was in possession of the true wisdom.] 

It is mentioned (in Gosh Jasht and Ram Jasht) that 
Jima held two beings in honour, which did not belong to 
Ahuramazda's celestial circle, but were regarded as 
worthy of worship. These two were : 

1. The cow (Gosh), that lived in the beginning of time, 
and whose blood, when she was slain, fertilised the earth 
with the seed of life. 

2. Vajush, the heavenly breeze. He is identical with 



the ruler of the air and wind in Rigveda, the mighty god 

In regard to the origin and purpose of the kingdom 
ruled by Jima, in which neither frost nor drought, nor 
aging nor death, nor moral evil, can enter Vendi-dad re- 
lates the following :* 

A vest a. 

21. A meeting was held 
with the holy angels of Ahu- 
ramazda, the creator. To 
this meeting came, with the 
best men, Jima, the king rich 
in flocks. 

22. Then said Ahuramazda 
to Jima: "Happy Jima Vivan- 
ghana! In the material world 
there shall come an evil win- 
ter, and consequently a hard, 
killing frost." 

23. From three places, O 
Jima, the cows should be 
driven to well-enclosed shel- 
ters; whether they are in the 
wildernesses, or in the heights 
of the mountains, or in the 
depths of the valleys. 

24. Before the winter this 
land had meadows. Before 
that time the water (the rain) 
was wont to flow over it, and 
the snow to melt; and there 
was found, O Jima, in the 

/ Zend. 

A meeting was held with 
the best men of Jima, the king, 
the one rich in flocks. To 
this meeting came, with the 
holy angels, Ahuramazda, the 

In the material world there 
shall come an evil winter, 
consequently much snow 
shall fall on the highest moun- 
tains, on the tops of the 

From three places, O Jima, 
the cows should be driven 
to well-enclosed shelters; 
whether they are in the wil- 
derness, or on the heights of 
the mountains, or in the 
depths of the valleys. 

*The outlines of the contents are given here from the interpretation 
found in Haug- West's Essays on the Sacred Language of the Parsis (Lon- 
don, 1878). 



material world, water-soaked 
places, in which were visible 
the footprints of the cattle 
and their offspring. 

25. Now give this enclo- 
sure (above, "the well-en- 
closed shelters") on each of 
its four sides the length of 
one . . . and bring thither 
the seed of your cattle, of 
oxen, of men, of dogs, and of 
birds, and red blazing fires. 

26. Gather water there in a 
canal, the length of one ha- 
thra. Place the landmarks 
there on a gold-coloured spot, 
furnished with imperishable 
nourishment. Put up a house 
there of mats and poles, with 
roof and walls. 

Now give the enclosure the 
length of one ... on each of 
its four sides as a dwelling for 
men, and give the same length 
to each of the four sides as a 
field for the cows. 

27. Bring thither seed of all 
men and women, who are the 
largest, best, and most fair on 
this earth. Bring thither seed 
of all domestic animals that 
are the largest, best, and fair- 
est on this earth. 

28. Bring thither seed of all 
plants which are the highest 
and most fragrant on this 
earth. Bring thither seed of 
all articles of food which are 
the best tasting and most 
fragrant on this earth. And 
make pairs of them unceas- 
ingly, in order that these be- 
ings may have their existence 
in the enclosures. 



29. There shall be no pride, 
no despondency, no sluggish- 
ness, no poverty, no deceit, 
no dwarf-growths, no blem- 
ish ... nor aught else of those 
signs which are Angro-main- 
yush's curses put on men. 

30. Make, in the uppermost 
part of that territory, nine 
bridges; in the middle, six; in 
the lowest part, three. To the 
bridges of the upper part you 
must bring seed of a thousand 
men and women, to those of 
the middle the seed of six 
hundred, to those of the 
lower, of three hundred. . . . 
And make a door in the en- 
closure, and a self-luminous 
window on the inside. 

33. Then Jima made the 

39. Which are those lights, 
thou just Ahuramazda, which 
give light in the enclosures 
made by Jima? 

40. Ahuramazda answered: 
Once (a year) the stars and 
moon and the sun are there 
seen to rise and set. 

41. And they (who dwell 
within Jima's enclosures) 
think that one year is one day. 
Every fortieth year two per- 
sons are born by two per- 
sons. These persons enjoy 
the greatest bliss in the en- 
closures made by Jima. 



42. Just creator! Who 
preached the pure faith in 
the enclosures which Jima 
made? Ahuramazda an- 
swered: The bird Karshipta. 

Jima's garden has accordingly been formed in connec- 
tion with a terrible winter, which, in the first period of 
time, visited the earth, and it was planned to preserve 
that which is noblest and fairest and most useful within 
the kingdoms of organic beings. That the garden is 
situated in the lower world is not expressly stated in the 
above-quoted passages from Vendidad ; though this seems 
to be presupposed by what is stated ; for the stars, sun, and 
moon do not show themselves in Jima's garden excepting 
after long, defined intervals at their rising and setting; 
and as the surface of the earth is devastated by the 
unparalleled frost, and as the valleys are no more pro- 
tected therefrom than the mountains, we cannot without 
grave doubts conceive the garden as situated in the upper 
world. That it is subterranean is, however, expressly 
stated in Bundehesh, ch. 30, 10, where it is located under 
the mountain Damkan ; and that it, in the oldest period of 
the myth, was looked upon as subterranean follows from 
the fact that the Jima of the ancient Iranian records is 
identical with Rigveda's Jama, whose domain and the 
scene of whose activities is the lower world, the kingdom 
of death. 

As Jima's enclosed garden was established on account 
of the fimbul-winter, which occurred in time's morning, 
it continues to exist after the close of the winter, and pre- 


serves through all the historical ages those treasures of 
uncorrupted men, animals, and plants which in the begin- 
ning of time were collected there. The purpose of this 
is mentioned in Minokhird, a sort of catechism of the 
legends and morals of the Avesta religion. There it is 
said that after the conflagration of the world, and in the 
beginning of the regeneration, the garden which Jima 
made; shall open its gate, and thence men, animals and 
plants shall once more fill the devastated earth. 

The lower world, where Jima, according to the ancient 
Iranian records, founded this remarkable citadel, is, 
according to Rigveda, Jama's kingdom, and also the king- 
dom of death, of which Jama is king (Rigv., x. 16, 9 ; cp. 
i. 35, 6, and other passages). It is a glorious country, 
with inexhaustible fountains, and there is the home of the 
imperishable light (Rigv., ix. 7, 8,; ix. 113, 8). Jama 
dwells under a tree "with broad leaves." There he 
gathers around the goblet of mead the fathers of antiquity, 
and there he drinks with the gods (Rigv., x. 135, 1). 

Roth, and after him Abel Bergaigne (Religion Ved., 
i. 88 ff.), regard Jama and Manu, mentioned in Rigveda, 
as identical. There are strong reasons for the assumption, 
so far as certain passages of Rigveda are concerned; 
while other passages, particularly those which mention 
Manu by the side of Bhriga, refer to an ancient patriarch 
of human descent. If the derivation of the word Mimer, 
Miml, pointed out by several linguists, last by Mullenhoff 
(Deutsche Alt., vol. v. 105, 106), is correct, then it is 
originally the same name as Manu, and like it is to be 
referred to the idea of thinking, remembering. 



What the Aryan-Asiatic myth here given has in com- 
mon with the Teutonic one concerning the subterranean 
persons in Mimer's grove can be summarised in the fol- 
lowing words : 

The lower world has a ruler, who does not belong to the 
group of immortal celestial beings, but enjoys the most 
friendly relations with the godhead, and is the possessor 
of great wisdom. In his kingdom flow inexhaustible 
fountains, and a tree grown out of its soil spreads its 
foliage over his dwelling, where he serves the mead of 
inspiration, which the gods are fond of and which he was 
the first to prepare. A terrible winter threatened to des- 
troy everything on the surface of the earth. Then the 
ruler of the lower world built on his domain a well-forti- 
fied citadel, within which neither destructive storms, nor 
physical ills, nor moral evil, nor sickness, nor aging, nor 
death can come. Thither he transferred the best and 
fairest human beings to be found on earth, and decorated 
the enclosed garden with the most beautiful and useful 
trees and plants. The purpose of this garden is not sim- 
ply to protect the beings collected there during the great 
winter; they are to remain there through all historical 
ages. When these come to an end, there comes a great 
conflagration and then a regeneration of the world. The 
renewed earth is to be filled with the beings who have been 
protected by the subterranean citadel. The people who 
live there have an instructor in the pure worship of the 
gods and in the precepts of morality, and in accordance 
with these precepts they are to live for ever a just and 
happy life. 



It should be added that the two beings whom the 
Iranian ruler of the lower world is said to have honoured 
are found or have equivalents in the Teutonic mythlogy. 
Both are there put in theogonic connection with Mimer. 
The one is the celestial lord of the wind, Vayush, Rig- 
veda's Vayu-Vata. Vata is thought to be the same name 
as Wodan, Odinn (Zimmer, Haupt's Zeitschr., 1875; cp. 
Mannhardt and Kaegi). At all events, Vata's tasks are 
the same as Odin's. The other is the primeval cow, 
whose Norse name or epithet, Audhumla is preserved in 
Gylfag., 6. Andhunla liberates from the frost-stones in 
Chaos Bure, the progenitor of the Asa race, and his son 
Bor is married to Mimer's sister Bestla, and with her 
becomes the father of Odin (Havam., 140 ; Gylfag., 6). 



We now know the purpose of Odaimakr, Mimer's land 
and Mimer's grove in the world-plan of our mythology. 
We know who the inhabitants of the grove are, and why 
they, though dwellers in the lower world, must be living 
persons, who did not come there through the gate of death. 
They must be living persons of flesh and blood, since the 
human race of the regenerated earth must be the same. 

Still the purpose of Mimer's land is not limited to 
being, through this epoch of the world, a protection for 
the fathers of the future world against moral and physical 
corruption, and a seminary where Balder educates them in 



virtue and piety. The grove protects, as we have seen, 
the dsmegir during Ragnarok, whose flames do not pene- 
trate thither. Thus the grove, and the land in which it 
is situated, exist after the flames of Ragnarok are extin- 
guished. Was it thought that the grove after the regen- 
eration was to continue in the lower world and there stand 
uninhabited, abandoned, desolate, and without a purpose 
in the future existence of gods, men and things ? 

The last moments of the existence of the crust of the 
old earth are described as a chaotic condition in which 
all elements are confused with each other. The sea rises, 
overflows the earth sinking beneath its billows, and the 
crests of its waves aspire to heaven itself (cp. Volusp., 
54, 2Sigr fold i mar, with Hyndlulj., 42, 1-3 Haf 
gengr hridium vid himinn sialfann, lidr land yfir). The 
atmosphere, usurped by the sea, disappears, as it were 
(loft bilar Hyndlulj., 42, 4). Its snow and winds 
(Hyndlulj., 42, 5-6) are blended with water and fire, 
and form with them heated vapours, which "play" against 
the vault of heaven (Volusp., 54, 7-8). One of the 
reasons why the fancy has made all the forces and 
elements of nature thus contend and blend was doubtless 
to furnish a sufficiently good cause for the dissolution 
and disappearance of the burnt crust of the earth. At all 
events, the earth is gone when the rage of the elements 
is subdued, and thus it is no impediment to the act of 
regeneration which takes its beginning beneath the waves. 

This act of regeneration consists in the rising from the 
depths of the sea " a new earth, which on its very rising 
possesses living beings and is clothed in green. The fact 



that it, while yet below the sea, could be a home for beings 
which need air in order to breathe and exist, is not 
necessarily to be regarded as a miracle in mythology. 
Our ancestors only needed to have seen an air-bubble rise 
to the surface of the water in order to draw the conclusion 
that air can be found under the water without mixing with 
it, but with the power of pushing water away while it 
rises to the surface. The earth rising from the sea has, 
like the old earth, the necessary atmosphere around it. 
Under all circumstances, the seeress in Voluspa sees after 

upp koma 

audro sinni 

iord or segi 

ithia graena (str. 56). 

The earth risen from the deep has mountains and cas- 
cades, which, from their fountains in the fells, hasten to 
the sea. The waterfalls contain fishes, and above them 
soars the eagle seeking its prey (Volusp., 56, 5-8). The 
eagle cannot be a survivor of the beings of the old earth. 
It cannot have endured in an atmosphere full of fire and 
steam, nor is there any reason why the mythology should 
spare the eagle among all the creatures of the old earth. 
It is, therefore, of the same origin as the mountains, the 
cascades, and the imperishable vegetation which suddenly 
came to the surface. 

The earth risen from the sea also contains human 
beings, namely, Lif and Leifthraser, and their offspring. 
Mythology did not need to have recourse to any hocus- 
pocus to get them there. The earth risen from the sea 


had been the lower world before it came out of the deep, 
and a paradise-region in the lower world had for centuries 
been the abode of Lif and Leifthraser. It is more than 
unnecessary to imagine that the lower world with this 
Paradise was duplicated by another with a similar Para- 
dise, and that the living creatures on the former were 
by some magic manipulation transferred to the latter. 
Mythology has its miracles, but it also has its logic. As 
its object is to be trusted, it tries to be as probable and 
consistent with its premises as possible. It resorts to 
miracles and magic only when it is necessary, not other- 

Among the mountains which rise on the new earth are 
found those which are called Nida fjoll (Volusp., 62), 
Nide's mountains. The very name Nide suggests the 
lower world. It means the "lower one." Among the 
abodes of Hades, mentioned in Voluspa, there is also a 
hall of gold on Nide's plains (a Nitha vollum str. 36), 
and from Solarljod (str. 56) we learn a statement con- 
firmed by much older records that Nide is identical with 
Mimer (see No. 87). Thus, Nide's mountains are 
situated on Mimer's fields. Voluspa's seeress discovers 
on the rejuvenated earth Nidhog, the corpse-eating demon 
of the lower world, flying, with dead bodies under his 
wings, away from the rocks, where he from time imme- 
morial had had his abode, and from which he carried 
his prey to Nastrands (Volusp., 39). There are no more 
dead bodies to be had for him, and his task is done. 
Whether the last line of Voluspa has reference to Nidhog 
or not, when it speaks of some one "who must sink," can- 



not be determined. Mullenhoff (Deutsche Alt.) assumes 
this to be the case, and he is probably right ; but as the text 
has hon (she) not han (he) [nu mun hon seyquas], and 
as I, in this work, do not base anything even on the most 
probable text emendation, this question is set aside, and 
the more so, since Voluspa's description of the regenerated 
earth under all circumstances shows that Nidhog has 
naught there to do but to fly thence and disappear. The 
existence of Nide's mountains on the new earth confirms 
the fact that it is identical with Mimer's former lower 
world, and that Lif and Leifthraser did not need to move 
from one world to another in order to get to the daylight 
of their final destination. 

Voluspa gives one more proof of this. 

In their youth, free from care, the Asas played with 
strange tablets. But they had the tablets only i arla- 
daga, in the earliest time (Volusp., 8, 58). Afterwards, 
they must in some way or other have lost them. The 
Icelandic sagas of the middle ages have remembered this 
game of tablets, and there we learn, partly that its strange 
character consisted in the fact that it could itself take 
part in the game and move the pieces, and partly that it 
was preserved in the lower world, and that Gudmund- 
Mimer was in the habit of playing with tablets (Fornalder 
Sagas, i. 443; iii. 391-392; iii. 626, &c. In the last pas- 
sages the game is mentioned in connection with the other 
subterranean treasure, the horn.) If, now, the mythology 
had no special reason for bringing the tablets from the 
lower world before Ragnarok, then they naturally should 
be found on the risen earth if the latter was Mimer's 



domain before. Voluspa (str. 58) also relates that they 
were found in its grass : 

Thar muno eptir 
gullnar tavlor 
i grasi finaz. 

"There were the wonderful tablets found left in the 
grass (Unas eptir)." 

Thus, the tablet-game was refound in the grass, in 
the meadows of the renewed earth, having from the 
earliest time been preserved in Mimer's realm. Lif and 
Leifthraser are found after Ragnarok on the earth of the 
regenerated world, having had their abode there for a 
long time in Mimer's domain. Nide's mountains, and 
Nidhog with them, have been raised out of the sea, 
together with the rejuvenated earth, since these mountains 
are located in Mimer's realm. The earth of the new era 
the era of virtue and bliss have, though concealed, 
existed through thousands of years below the sin-stained 
earth, as the kernel within the shell. 

Remark Voluspa (str. 56) calls the earth rising from 
the sea idjagrcsna'. 

Ser hon upp koma 
audro sinni 
iord or aegi 
ithia graena. 

The common interpretation is ithia grozna, "the ever 
green" or "very green," and this harmonises well with the 
idea preserved in the sagas mentioned above, where it 
was stated that the winter was not able to devastate Gud- 



mund-Mimer's domain. Thus the idea contained in the 
expression H adding jalands oskurna ax (see Nos. 72, 73) 
recurs in Voluspa's statement that the fields unsown 
yield harvests in the new earth. Meanwhile the com- 
position idja-grcena has a perfectly abnormal appearance, 
and awakens suspicion. Miillenhoff {Deutsche Alt.} 
reads idja, grcena, and translates "the fresh, the green." 
As a conjecture, and without basing anything on the 
assumption ; I may be permitted to present the possibility 
that idja is an old genitive plural of ida, an eddying body 
of water. Ida has originally had a / in the stem (it is 
related to id and idi), and this / must also have been 
heard in the inflections. From various metaphors in the 
old skalds we learn that they conceived the fountains of 
the lower world as roaring and in commotion (e.g., Odre- 
ris alda thytr in Einar Skalaglam and Bodnar bdra ter 
vaxa in the same skald). If the conjecture is as correct 
as it seems probable, then the new earth is characterised 
as "the green earth of the eddying fountains," and the 
fountains are those famous three which water the roots 
of the world-tree. 



In regard to the position of Ygdrasil and its roots in 
the universe, there are statements both in Gylfaginning 
and in the ancient heathen records. To get a clear idea, 
freed from conjectures and based in all respects on 

4 395 


evidence, of how the mythology conceived the world-tree 
and its roots, is of interest not only in regard to the 
cosmography of the mythology, to which Ygdrasil sup- 
plies the trunk and the main outlines, but especially in 
regard to the mythic conception of the lower world and 
the whole eschatology ; for it appears that each one of the 
Ygdrasil roots stands not alone above its particular foun- 
tain in the lower world but also over its peculiar lower- 
world domain, which again has its peculiar cosmological 
character and its peculiar eschatological end. 

The first condition, however, for a fruitful investigation 
is that we consider the heathen or heathen-appearing 
records by themselves without mixing their statements 
with those of Gylfaginning. We must bear in mind that 
the author of Gylfaginning lived and wrote in the 13th 
century, more than 200 years after the introduction of 
Christianity in Iceland, and that his statements accord- 
ingly are to be made a link in that chain of documents 
which exist for the scholar, who tries to follow the fate 
of the myths during a Christian period and to study 
their gradual corruption and confusion. 

This caution is the more important for the reason that 
an examination of Gylfaginning very soon shows that the 
whole cosmographical and eschatological structure which 
it has built out of fragmentary mythic traditions is based 
on a conception wholly foreign to Teutonic mythology,, 
that is, on the conception framed by the scholars in 
Frankish cloisters, and then handed down from chronicle 
to chronicle, that the Teutons were descended from the 
Trojans, and that their gods were originally Trojan chiefs 



and magicians. This "learned" conception found its way 
to the North and finally developed its most luxurious and 
abundant blossoms in the Younger Edda preface and in 
certain other parts of that work. 

Permit me to present in brief a sketch of how the cos- 
mography and eschatology of Gylfaginning developed 
themselves out of this assumption: The Asas were 
originally men, and dwelt in the Troy which was situated 
on the centre of the earth, and which was identical with 
Asgard (thar ncsst gerdu their ser borg i midjum heimi, 
er kallat er Asgardr; that kollum ver Troj'a; thar bygdu 
gudin ok czttir theirra ok gfordust thadan af morg tidindi 
ok greinir Ixzdi a jord ok a lopti ch. 9). 

The first mythic tradition which supplies material for 
the structure which Gylfaginning builds on this founda- 
tion is the bridge Bifrost. The myth had said that this 
bridge united the celestial abodes with a part of the uni- 
verse situated somewhere below. Gylfaginning, which 
makes the Asas dwell in Troy, therefore makes the gods 
undertake an enterprise of the greatest boldness, that of 
building a bridge from Troy to the heavens. But they 
are extraordinary architects and succeed (Gudin gjordu 
bru til himins af jordu. ch. 13). 

The second mythic tradition employed is Urd's foun- 
tain. The myth had stated that the gods daily rode from 
their celestial abodes on the bridge Bifrost to Urd's (sub- 
terranean) fountain. Thence Gylfaginning draws the 
correct conclusion that Asgard was supposed to be situated 
at one end of the bridge and Urd's fountain near the 
other. But from Gylfaginning's premises it follows that 



if Asgard-Troy is situated on the surface of the earth 
Urd's fountain must be situated in the heavens, and that 
the Asas accordingly when they ride to Urd's fountain 
must ride upward, not downward. The conclusion is 
drawn with absolute consistency ("Hvern dag rida> cesir 
thangat u$p um Bi frost" ch. 15). 

The third mythic tradition used as material is the 
world-tree, which went (down in the lower world) to 
Urd's fountain. According to Voluspa (19), this foun- 
tain is situated beneath the ash Ygdrasil. The conclusion 
drawn by Gylfaginning by the aid of its Trojan premises 
is that since Urd's fountain is situated in the heavens, 
and still under one of Ygdrasil's roots, this root must be 
located still further up in the heavens. The placing of 
the root is also done with consistency, so that we get the 
following series of wrong localisations: Down on the 
earth, Asgard-Troy; thence up to the heavens the bridge 
Bifrost ; above Bif rost, Urd's fountain ; high above Urd's 
fountain, one of Ygdrasil's three roots (which in the 
mythology are all in the lower world). 

Since one of Ygdrasil's roots thus had received its place 
far up in the heavens, it became necessary to place a 
second root on a level with the earth, and the third one 
was allowed to retain its position in the lower world. 
Thus was produced a just distribution of the roots among 
the three regions which in the conception of the middle 
ages constituted the universe, namely, the heavens, the 
earth, and hell. 

In this manner two myths were made to do service in 
regard to one of the remaining Ygdrasil roots. The one 



myth was taken from Voluspa, where it was learned that 
Mimer's fountain is situated below the sacred world-tree; 
the other was Grimnismal (31), where we are told that 
frost-giants dwell under one of the three roots. At the 
time when Gylfaginning was written, and still later, popu- 
lar traditions told that Gudmund-Mimer was of giant 
descent (see the middle-age sagas narrated above). From 
this Gylfaginning draws the conclusion that Mimer was 
a frost-giant, and it identifies the root which extends to 
the frost-giants with the root that extends to Mimer's 
fountain. Thus this fountain of creative power, of world- 
preservation, of wisdom, and of poetry receives from 
Gylfaginning its place in the abode of the powers of frost, 
hostile to gods and to men, in the land of the frost-giants, 
which Gylfaginning regards as being Jotunheim, border- 
ing on the earth. 

In this way Gylfaginning, with the Trojan hypothesis 
as its starting-point, has gotten so far that it has separated 
from the lower world with its three realms and three 
fountains Urd's realm and fountain, they being transferred 
to the heavens, and Mimer's realm and fountain, they 
being transferred to Jotunheim. In the mythology these 
two realms were the subterranean regions of bliss, and the 
third, Nifelhel, with the regions subject to it, was the 
abode of the damned. After these separations were 
made, Gylfaginning, to be logical, had to assume that 
the lower world of the heathens was exclusively a realm 
of misery and torture, a sort of counterpart of the hell of 
the Church. This conclusion is also drawn with due con- 
sistency, and Ygdrasil's third root, which in the mytho- 



logy descended to the well Hvergelmer and to the lower 
world of the frost-giants, Nifelhel, Nifelheim, extends 
over the whole lower world, the latter being regarded as 
identical with Nifelheim and the places of punishment 
therewith connected. 

This result carries with it another. The goddess of the 
lower world, and particularly of its domain of bliss, was 
in the mythology, as shall be shown below, the goddess 
of fate and death, Urd. also called Hel, when named after 
the country over which she ruled. In a local sense, the 
name Hel could be applied partly to the whole lower 
world, which rarely happened, partly to Urd's and 
Mimer's realms of bliss, which was more common, and 
Hel was then the opposite of Nifelhel, which was solely 
the home of misery and torture. Proofs of this shall be 
given below. But when the lower world had been 
changed to a sort of hell, the name Hel, both in its local 
and in its personal sense, must undergo a similar change, 
and since Urd (the real Hel) was transferred to the 
heavens, there was nothing to hinder Gylfaginning from 
substituting for the queen of the lower world Loke's 
daughter cast down into Nifelhel and giving her.the name 
Hel and the sceptre over the whole lower world. 

This method is also pursued by Gylfaginning's author 
without hesitation, although he had the best of reasons 
for suspecting its correctness. A certain hesitancy might 
here have been in order. According to the mythology, 
the pure and pious Asa-god Balder comes to Hel, that is 
to say, to the lower world, and to one of its realms of 
bliss. But after the transformation to which the lower 



world had been subjected in Gylfaginning' s system, the 
descent of Balder to Hel must have meant a descent to 
and a remaining in the world of misery and torture, and 
a relation of subject to the daughter of Loke. This 
should have awakened doubts in the mind of the author 
of Gylfaginning. But even here he had the courage to 
be true to his premises, and without even thinking of the 
absurdity in which he involves himself, he goes on and 
endows the sister of the Midgard-serpent and of the 
Fenris-wolf with that perfect power which be fore belonged 
to Destiny personified, so that the same gods who before 
had cast the horrible child Loke down into the ninth 
region of Nifelhel are now compelled to send a minister- 
plenipotentiary to her majesty to treat with her and pray 
for Balder's liberation. 

But finally, there comes a point where the courage of 
consistency fails Gylfaginning. The manner in which it 
has placed the roots of the world-tree makes us first of all 
conceive Ygdrasil as lying horizontal in space. An 
attempt to make this matter intelligible can produce no 
other picture of Ygdrasil, in accord with the statements 
of Gylfaginning, than the following : 



The root over heaven 
and over Urd's foun- 

The root over Jotun- 
heim and over Mi- 
ner's well. 

The root over the 
lower world and 
over Hvergelmer's 

Ygdrasil's trunk. 

But Gylfaginning is not disposed to draw this con- 
clusion. On the contrary, it insists that Ygdrasil stands 
erect on its three roots. How we, then, are to conceive 
its roots as united one with the other and with the trunk 
of this it very prudently leaves us in ignorance, for this 
is beyond the range of human imagination. 

The contrast between the mythological doctrine in 
regard to the three Ygdrasil roots, and Gylfaginning's 
view of the subject may easily be demonstrated by the 
following parallels: 

The Mythology. 

1. Ygdrasil has three roots. 

2. All three roots are subter- 


1. Ygdrasil has three roots. 

2. One is in the lower 
world; a second stands over 
Jotunheim on a level with the 
earth; a third stands over the 



3. To each root corresponds 
a fountain and a realm in the 
lower world. The lower world 
consists of three realms, each 
with its fountain and each 
with its root. 

4. Under one of the subter- 
ranean roots dwells the god- 
dess of death and fate, Urd, 
who is also called Hel, and in 
her realm is Urd's fountain. 

5. Under the other (subter- 
ranean) root dwells Mimer. 
In his realm is Mimer's foun- 
tain and Mimer's grove, 
where a subterranean race of 
men are preserved for the fu- 
ture world. This root may, 
therefore, be said to stand 
over mennskir menn (Grim- 

6. Under the third (subter- 
ranean) root dwell frost- 
giants. Under this root is the 
well Hvergelmer, and the 
realm of the frost-giants is 

3. To each root corre- 
sponds a fountain and a 
realm; the realms are the 
heavens, Jotunheim, and the 
lower world, which are lo- 
cated each under its root. 

4. Under one of the roots, 
that is the one which stands 
over heaven, dwells Urd the 
goddess of fate, and there is 
Urd's fountain. 

It is said that one of the 
roots stands over mennskir 
menn (Grimnersmal). By this 
is meant, according to Gyl- 
faginning, not the root over 
Mimer's well, but the root 
over Urd's fountain, near 
which the Asas hold their 
assemblies, for the Asas are 
in reality men who dwelt on 
earth in the city of Troy. 

6. Under the third (and 
only subterranean) root dwell 
the souls of sinners and those 
who have died from sickness 
and age. Under this root is 




Nifelhel (Nifelheim). Under 
Nifelhel are nine regions of 

7. The sister of the Mid- 
gard-serpent and of the Fen- 
ris-wolf was cast by the gods 
into the regions of torture 
under Nifelhel, and received 
the rule over the places where 
the damned are punished. 

the well Hvergelmer and 
the whole lower world. The 
lower world is called Nifelhel 
or Nifelheim, and contains 
nine places of torture. 

7. The sister of the Mid- 
gard-serpent and of the Fen- 
ris-wolf was cast by the gods 
into the regions of torture 
under Nifelhel, and received 
the rule over the whole lower 
world,which consists of Nifel- 
hel with the nine regions of 

8. As Hel means the lower 
world, and as the sister of the 
Midgard-serpent governs the 
whole lower world, she is 
meant by the personal Hel. 

8. The name Hel can be ap- 
plied to the whole lower 
world, but means particularly 
that region of bliss where 
Urd's fountain is situated, for 
Urd is the personal Hel. The 
Loke-daughter in Nifelhel is 
her slave and must obey her 

Gylfaginning does not stop with the above results. It 
continues the chain of its conclusions. After Hvergelmer 
has been selected by Gylfaginning as the only fountain in 
the lower world, it should, since the lower world has been 
made into a sort of hell, be a fountain of hell, and in this 
respect easily recognised by the Christian conception of the 
middle ages. In this new character Hvergelmer becomes 
the centre and the worst place in Gylfaginning' s descrip- 
tion of the heathen Gehenna. No doubt because the old 
dragon, which is hurled down into the abyss (Revelation, 
chap. 20) , is to be found in the hell-fountain of the middle 



ages, Gylfaginning throws Nidhog down into Hvergel- 
mer, which it also fills with serpents and dead bodies 
found in Grimnismal (Str. 34, 35), where they have no 
connection with Hvergelmer. According to Voluspa it 
is in Nastrands that Nidhog sucks and the wolf tears the 
dead bodies (ndir}. Gylfaginning follows Voluspa in 
speaking of the other terrors in Nastrands, but rejects 
Voluspa' s statements about Nidhog and the wolf, and 
casts both these beasts down into the Hvergelmer foun- 
tain. As shall be shown below, the Hvergelmer of the 
mythology is the mother-fountain of all waters, and is 
situated on a high plain in the lower world. Thence its 
waters flow partly northward to Nifelheim, partly south 
to the elysian fields of heathendom, and the waves sent 
in the latter direction are shining, clear, and holy. 

It was an old custom, at least in Iceland, that booths for 
the accommodation of the visitors were built around a 
remote thing-stead, or place for holding the parliament. 
Gylfaginning makes its Trojan Asas follow the example of 
the Icelanders, and put up houses around the thing-stead, 
which they selected near Urd's fountain, after they had 
succeeded in securing by Bi frost a connection between 
Troy and heaven. This done, Gylfaginning distributes 
as best it can the divine halls and abodes of bliss men- 
tioned in the mythology between Troy on the earth and 
the thing-stead in heaven. 

This may be sufficient to show that Gylfaginning's pre- 
tended account of the old mythological cosmography is, 
on account of its making Troy the starting-point, and 
doubtless also to some extent as a result of the Christian 



methods of thought, with which the author interpreted 
the heathen myths accessible to him, is simply a mon- 
strous caricature of the mythology, a caricature which is 
continued, not with complacency and assurance, but in 
a confused and contradictory manner, in the eschatology 
of Gylfaginning. 

My chief task will now be to review and examine all 
the passages in the Elder Edda's mythological songs, 
wherein the words Hel and Nifelhel occur, in order to 
find out in this manner in which sense or senses these 
words are there employed, and to note at the same time all 
the passages which may come in my way and which are 
of importance to the myth concerning the lower world. 



The Norse Hel is the same word as the Gothic Halja, 
the Old High German Hella, the Anglo-Saxon Hellia, 
and the English Hell. On account of its occurrence with 
similar signification in different Teutonic tongues in their 
oldest linguistic monuments, scholars have been able to 
draw the conclusion that the word points to a primitive 
Teutonic Halja, meaning lower world, lower world divin- 
ity. It is believed to be related to the Latin oc-cul-ere, 
eel-are, clam, and to mean the one who "hides," "con- 
ceals," "preserves." 

When the books of the New Testament were for the 
first time translated into a Teutonic tongue, into a Gothic 
dialect, the translator, Ulfilas, had to find some way of 



distinguishing with suitable words between the two realms 
of the lower world mentioned in the New Testament, 
Hades and Gehenna (geen a). 

Hades, the middle condition, and the locality corres- 
ponding to this condition, which contains both fields of 
bliss and regions of torture, he translated with Halja, 
doubtless because the signification of this word corres- 
ponded most faithfully with the meaning of the word 
Hades. For Gehenna, hell, he used the borrowed word 

The Old High German translation also reproduces 
Hades with the word Hella. For Gehenna it uses two 
expressions compounded with Hella. One of these, Hel- 
lawisi, belongs to the form which afterwards predomi- 
nated in Scandinavia. Both the compounds bear testi- 
mony that the place of punishment in the lower world 
could not be expressed with Hella, but it was necessary 
to add a word, which showed that a subterranean place of 
punishment was meant. The same word for Gehenna 
is found among the Christian Teutons in England, 
namely, Hellewite; that is to say, the Hellia,thatpartofthe 
lower world where it is necessary to do penance (vite) 
for one's sins. From England the expression doubtless 
came to Scandinavia, where we find in the Icelandic Hel- 
viti, in the Swedish Hdlvete, and in the Danish Helvede. 
In the Icelandic literature it is found for the first time 
in Hallfred, the same skald who with great hesitation 
permitted himself to be persuaded by Olaf Trygveson to 
abandon the faith of his fathers. 

Many centuries before Scandinavia was converted to 



Christianity, the Roman Church had very nearly oblite- 
rated the boundary line between the subterranean Hades 
and Gehenna of the New Testament. The lower world 
had, as a whole, become a realm of torture, though with 
various gradations. Regions of bliss were no longer to be 
found there, and for Hel in the sense in which Ulfilas used 
Halja, and the Old High German translation Hella, there 
was no longer room in the Christian conception. In the 
North, Hel was therefore permitted to remain a heathen 
word, and to retain its heathen signification as long as the 
Christian generations were able or cared to preserve it. 
It is natural that the memory of this signification should 
gradually fade, and that the idea of the Christian hell 
should gradually be transferred to the heathen Hel. This 
change can be pretty accurately traced in the Old Norse 
literature. It came slowly, for the doctrine in regard to 
the lower world in the Teutonic religion addressed itself 
powerfully to the imagination, and, as appears from a 
careful examination, far from being indefinite in its out- 
lines, it was, on the contrary, described with the clearest 
lines and most vivid colours, even down to the minutest 
details. Not until the thirteenth century could such a 
description of the heathen Hel as Gylfaginning's be possi- 
ble and find readers who would accept it. But not even 
then were the memories (preserved in fragments from the 
heathen days) in regard to the lower world doctrine so 
confused, but that it was possible to present a far more 
faithful (or rather not so utterly false) description there- 
of. Gylfaginning's representation of the heathen Hades 
is based less on the then existing confusion of the tradi- 



tions than on the conclusions drawn from the author's own 
false premises. 

In determining the question, how far Hel among the 
heathen Scandinavians has had a meaning identical with 
or similar to that which Halja and Hella had among their 
Gothic and German kinsmen that is to say, the significa- 
tion of a death-kingdom of such a nature that it could not 
with linguistic propriety be used in translating Gehenna 
we must first consult that which really is the oldest 
source, the usage of the spoken language in expressions 
where Hel is found. Such expressions show by the very 
presence of Hel that they have been handed down from 
heathendom, or have been formed in analogy with old 
heathen phrases. One of these modes of speech still 
exists: i hjal (sla ihjal, svalta ihjal, frysa ihjal, &c.), 
which is the Old Norse i Hel. We do not use this 
expression in the sense that a person killed by a weapon, 
famine, or frost is relegated to the abyss of torture. Still 
less could the heathens have used it in that sense. The 
phrase would never have been created if the word Hel 
had especially conveyed the notion of a place of punish- 
ment. Already in a very remote age i Hel had acquired 
the abstract meaning to death, but in such a manner that 
the phrase easily suggested the concrete idea the realm 
of death (an example of this will be given below) , What 
there is to be said about i Hel also applies to such phrases 
as bida Hel jar, to await Hel (death} ; buask til Hel jar, to 
become equipped for the journey to Hel (to be shrouded) ; 
liggja milli helms ok Heljar, to lie between this world and 
Hel (between life and death) ; liggja a Heljar thremi, to 




lie on Hel's threshold. A funeral could be called a Helfor 
(a Hel-journey) ; fatal illness Helsott (Hel-sickness) ; the 
deceased could be called Helgengnir (those gone to Hel). 
Of friends it is said that Hel (death) alone could separate 
them (Fornm., vii. 233). 

Thus it is evident that Hel, in the more general local 
sense of the word, referred to a place common for all the 
dead, and that the word was used without any additional 
suggestion of damnation and torture in the minds of those 
employing it. 




When Odin, according to Vegtamskvida, resolved to get 
reliable information in the lower world in regard to the 
fate whch threatened Balder, he saddled his Sleipner and 
rode thither. On the way he took he came first to 
Nifelhel. While he was still in Nifelhel, he met on his 
way a dog bloody about the breast, which came from 
the direction where that division of the lower world is 
situated, which is called Hel. Thus the rider and the 
dog came from opposite directions, and the former con- 
tinued his course in the direction whence the latter came. 
The dog turned, and long pursued Odin with his barking. 
Then the rider reached a foldvegr, that is to say, a road 
along grass-grown plains. The way resounded under the 
hoofs of the steed. Then Odin finally came to a high 
dwelling which is called Heljarrann or Hel far rann. The 



name of the dwelling shows that it was situated in Hel, 
not in Nifelhel. This latter realm of the lower world 
Odin now had had behind him ever since he reached the 
green fields, and since the dog, evidently a watch of the 
borders between Nifelhel and Hel, had left him in peace. 
The high dwelling was decorated as for a feast, and mead 
was served. It was, Odin learned, the abode where the 
dsmegir longingly waited for the arrival of Balder. Thus 
Vegtamskvida : 

2. Raeid hann (Odin) nidr thathan 
Niflhaeljar til, 

maetti hann hvselpi 
theim ser or haeliu kom. 

3. Sa var blodugr 
um briost framan 
ok galldrs fodur 
gol um laengi. 

4. Framm raeid Odinn, 
foldvaegr dundi, 
ban kom at hafu 
Haeliar ranni. 

7. Her standr Balldri 
of brugginn miodr. 
Ok asmegir 
i ofvseno. 

Vegtamskvida distinguishes distinctly between Nifelhel 
and Hel. In Hel is the dwelling which awaits the son of 
the gods, the noblest and most pious of all the Asas. The 
dwelling, which reveals a lavish splendour, is described as 
the very antithesis of that awful abode which, according 

5 411 


to Gylfaginning, belongs to the queen of the lower world. 
In Vafthrudnersmal (43) the old giant says: 

Fra iotna runom Of the runes of giants 

oc allra goda and of all the gods 

ec kann segia satt, I can speak truly; 

thviat hvern hefi ec for I have been 

heim um komit: in every world. 

nio kom ec heima In nine worlds I came 

fyr Niflhel nedan, below Nifelhel, 

hinig deyja or Helio halir. thither die "halir" from Hel. 

Like Vegtamskvida, so Vafthrudnersmal also distin- 
guishes distinctly between Hel and Nifelhel, particularly 
in those most remarkable words that thither, i.e., to Nifel- 
hel and the regions subject to it, die "halir" from Hel. 
Halir means men, human beings ; applied to beings in the 
lower world halir means dead men, the spirits of deceased 
human beings (cp. Allvism., 18, 6 ; 20, 6 ; 26, 6 ; 32, 6 ; 34, 
6, with 28, 3). Accordingly, nothing less is here said than 
that deceased persons who have come to the realm called 
Hel, may there be subject to a second death, and that 
through this second death they come to Nifelhel. Thus 
the same sharp distinction is here made between life in 
Hel and in Nifelhel as between life on earth and that in 
Hel. These two subterranean realms must therefore 
represent very different conditions. What these different 
conditions are, Vafthrudnersmal does not inform us, nor 
will I anticipate the investigation on this point; still less 
will I appeal to Gylfaginning's assurance that the realms 
of torture lie under Nifelhel, and that it is wicked men 
(vandir menn} who are obliged to cross the border from 



Hel to Nifelhel. So far it must be borne in mind that it 
was in Nifelhel Odin met the bloody dog-demon, who 
barked at the Asa-majesty, though he could not hinder 
the father of the mighty and protecting sorceries from 
continuing his journey ; while it was in Hel, on the other 
hand, that Odin saw the splendid abode where the dsmegir 
had already served the precious subterranean mead for his 
son, the just Balder. This argues that they who through 
a second death get over the border from Hel to Nifelhel, 
do not by this transfer get a better fate than that to 
which Hel invites those who have died the first death. 
Balder in the one realm, the blood-stained kinsman of 
Cerberus in the other this is, for the present, the only, 
but not unimportant weight in the balance which is to 
determine the question whether that border-line which a 
second death draws between Hel and Nifelhel is the bound- 
ary between a realm of bliss and a realm of suffering, and 
in this case, whether Hel or Nifelhel is the realm of bliss. 

This expression in Vafthrudnersmal, hinig deyja or 
Helio halir, also forces to the front another question, 
which as long as it remains unanswered, makes the former 
question more complicated. If Hel is a realm of bliss, 
and if Nifelhel with the regions subject thereto is a realm 
of unhappiness, then why do not the souls of the damned 
go at once to their final destination, but are taken first 
to the realm of bliss, then to the realm of anguish and 
pain, that is, after they have died the second death on 
the boundary-line between the two? And if, on the con- 
trary, Hel were the realm of unhappiness and Nifelhel 
offered a better lot, then' why should they who are destined 



for a better fate, first be brought to it through the world 
of torture, and then be separated from the latter by a 
second death before they could gain the more happy goal ? 
These questions cannot be answered until later on. 



In Grimnersmal the word Hel occurs twice (str. 28, 
31), and this poem is (together with Gylfaginning) the 
only ancient record which gives us any information about 
the well Hvergelmer under this name (str. 26, ff.). 

From what is related, it appears that the mythology 
conceived Hvergelmer as a vast reservoir, the mother- 
fountain of all the waters of the world (thadan eigo votn 
aull vega). In the front rank are mentioned a number 
of subterranean rivers which rise in Hvergelmer, and seek 
their courses thence in various directions. But the waters 
of earth and heaven also come from this immense foun- 
tain, and after completing their circuits they return 
thither. The liquids or saps which rise in the world- 
tree's stem to its branches and leaves around Herfather's 
hall (Valhal) return in the form of rain to Hvergelmer 
(Grimnersmal, 26). 

Forty rivers rising there are named. (Whether they 
were all found in the original text may be a subject of 
doubt. Interpolators may have added from their own 



knowledge.) Three of them are mentioned in other 
records namely, SUdr in Voluspa, 36, Gjoll in that 
account of Hermod's journey to Hel's realm, which in its 
main outlines was rescued by the author of Gylfaginning 
(Gylfag., ch. 52), and Leiptr in Helge Hund., ii. 31 and 
all three are referred to in such a way as to prove that they 
are subterranean rivers. Slid flows to the realms of tor- 
ture, and whirls weapons in its eddies, presumably to hin- 
der or frighten anybody from attempting to cross. Over 
Gjoll there is a bridge of gold to Balder's subterranean 
abode. Leiptr (which name means "the shining one") has 
clear waters which are holy, and by which solemn oaths 
are sworn, as by Styx. Of these last two rivers flowing 
out of Hvergelmer it is said that they flow down to Hel 
(falla til Hel jar, str. 28). Thus these are all subter- 
ranean. The next strophe (29) adds four rivers Kormt 
and Ormt, and the two Kerlogar, of which it is said 
that it is over these Thor must wade every day when he 
has to go to the judgment-seats of the gods near the ash 
Ygdrasil. For he does not ride like the other gods when 
they journey down over Bi frost to the thingstead near 
Urd's fountain. The horses which they use are named 
in strophe 30, and are ten in number, like the asas, when 
we subtract Thor who walks, and Balder and Hodr who 
dwell in Hel. Nor must Thor on these journeys, in case 
he wished to take the route by way of Bifrost, use the 
thunder-chariot, for the flames issuing from it might set 
fire to the Asa-bridge and make the holy waters glow 
(str. 29). That the thunder-chariot also is dangerous 
for higher regions when it is set in motion, thereof Thjo- 



dolf gives us a brilliant description in the poem Haust- 
laung. Thor being for this reason obliged to wade across 
four rivers before he gets to Urd's fountain, the beds of 
these rivers must have been conceived as crossing the paths 
travelled by the god journeying to the thingstead. 
Accordingly they must have their courses somewhere in 
Urd's realm, or on the way thither, and consequently they 
too belong to the lower world. 

Other rivers coming from Hvergelmer are said to turn 
their course around a place called Hodd-goda (str. 27 
ther hverfa um Hodd-goda}. This girdle of rivers, 
which the mythology unites around a single place, seems 
to indicate that this is a realm from which it is important 
to shut out everything that does not belong there. The 
name itself, Hodd-goda, points in the same direction. 
The word hodd means that which is concealed (the treas- 
ure), and at the same time a protected sacred place. In 
the German poem Heliand the word hord, corresponding 
to hodd, is used about the holiest of holies in the Jerusa- 
lem temple. As we already know, there is in the lower 
world a place to which these references apply, namely, the 
citadel guarded by Delling, the elf of dawn, and decorated 
by the famous artists of the lower world a citadel in 
which the dsmegir and Balder and probably Hodr too, 
since he is transferred to the lower world, and with Balder 
is to return thence await the end of the historical time 
and the regeneration. The word goda in Hodd-goda 
shows that the place is possessed by, or entrusted to, 
beings of divine rank. 

From what has here been stated in regard to Hvergel- 



mer it follows that the mighty well was conceived as 
situated on a high water-shed, far up in a subterranean 
mountain range, whence those rivers of which it is the 
source flow down in different directions to different realms 
of Hades. Of several of these rivers it is said that they 
in their upper courses, before they reach Hel, flow in the 
vicinity of mankind (gumnom ncer str. 28, 7), which 
naturally can have no other meaning than that the high 
land through which they flow after leaving Hvergelmer 
has been conceived as lying not very deep below the crust 
of Midgard (the earth). Hvergelmer and this high land 
are not to be referred to that division of the lower world 
which in Grimnersmal is called Hel, for not until after 
the rivers have flowed through the mountain landscape, 
where their source is, are they said to falla til Heljar. 

Thus (1) there is in the lower world a mountain ridge, 
a high land, where is found Hvergelmer, the source of all 
waters; (2) this mountain, which we for the present may 
call Mount Hvergelmer, is the watershed of the lower 
world, from which rivers flow in different directions ; and 
(3) that division of the lower world which is called Hel 
lies below one side of Mount Hvergelmer, and thence 
receives many rivers. What that division of the lower 
world which lies below the other side of Mount Hvergel- 
mer is called is not stated in Grimnersmal. But from 
Vafthrudnersmal and Vegtamskvida we already know that 
Hel is bounded by Nifelhel. In Vegtamskvida Odin rides 
through Nifelhel to Hel; in Vafthrudnersmal halir die 
from Hel to Nifelhel. Hel and Nifelhel thus appear to 
be each other's opposites, and to complement each other, 



and combined they form the whole lower world. Hence 
it follows that the land on the other side of the Hvergel- 
mer mountain is Nifelhel. 

It also seems necessary that both these Hades realms 
should in the mythology be separated from each other 
not only by an abstract boundary line, but also by a 
natural boundary a mountain or a body of water which 
might prohibit the crossing of the boundary by persons 
who neither had a right nor were obliged to cross. The 
tradition on which Saxo's account of Gorm's journey to 
the lower world is based makes Gorm and his men, when 
from Gudmund-Mimer's realm they wish to visit the 
abodes of the damned, first cross a river and then come 
to a boundary which cannot be crossed, excepting by scala, 
steps on the mountain wall, or ladders, above which the 
gates are placed, that open to a city "resembling most a 
cloud of vapour" (vaporanti maxime nubi simile i. 
425). This is Saxo's way of translating the name Nifel- 
hel, just as he in the story about Hadding's journey to 
the lower world translated Glasisvellir (the Glittering 
Fields) with loca aprica. 

In regard to the topography and eschatology of the 
Teutonic lower world, it is now of importance to find out 
on which opposite sides of the Hvergelmer mountain Hel 
and Nifelhel were conceived to be situated. 

Nifl, an ancient word, related to nebula and nephek 
means fog, mist, cloud, darkness. Nifelhel means that 
Hel which is enveloped in fog and twilight. The name 
Hel alone has evidently had partly a more general appli- 
cation to a territory embracing the whole kingdom of 



death else it could not be used as a part of the com- 
pound word Nifelhel partly a more limited meaning, in 
which Hel, as in Vafthrudnersmal and Vegtamskvida, 
forms a sharp contrast to Nifelhel, and from the latter 
point of view it is that division of the lower world which 
is not enveloped in mist and fog. 

According to the cosmography of the mythology there 
was, before the time when "Ymer lived," Nifelheim, a 
world of fog, darkness, and cold, north of Ginungagap, 
and an opposite world, that of fire and heat, south of the 
empty abyss. Unfortunately it is only Gylfaginning that 
has preserved for our time these cosmographical outlines, 
but there is no suspicion that the author of Gylfaginning 
invented them. The fact that his cosmographic descrip- 
tion also mentions the ancient cow Audhumla, which is 
nowhere else named in our mythic records, but is not 
utterly forgotten in our popular traditions, and which is a 
genuine Aryan conception, this is the strongest argument 
in favour of his having had genuine authorities for his 
theo-cosmogony at hand, though he used them in an 
arbitrary manner. The Teutons may also be said to have 
been compelled to construct a cosmogony in harmony with 
their conception of that world with which they were best 
acquainted, their own home between the cold North and 
the warmer South. 

Nifelhel in the lower world has its counterpart in 
Nifelheim in chaos. Gylfaginning identifies the two (ch. 
6 and 34). Forspjallsljod does the same, and locates 
Nifelheim far to the north in the lower world (nordr at 
Nifelheim str. 26), behind Ygdrasil's farthest root, 



under which the poem makes the goddess of night, after 
completing her journey around the heavens, rest for a 
new journey. When Night has completed such a journey 
and come to the lower world, she goes northward in the 
direction towards Nifelheim, to remain in her hall, until 
Dag with his chariot gets down to the western horizon 
and in his turn rides through the "horse doors" of Hades 
into the lower world. 

From this it follows that Nifelhel is to be referred to 
the north of the mountain Hvergelmer, Hel to the south 
of it. Thus this mountain is the wall separating Hel 
from Nifelhel. On that mountain in the gate, or gates, 
which in the Gorm story separates Gudmund-Mimer's 
abode from those dwellings which resemble a "cloud of 
vapour," and up there is the death boundary, at which 
"halir" die for the second time, when they are transferred 
from Hel to Nifelhel. 

The immense water-reservoir on the brow of the moun- 
tain, which stands under Ygdrasil's northern root, sends, 
as already stated, rivers down to both sides to Nifelhel 
in the North and to Hel in the South. Of the most of 
these rivers we now know only the names. But those of 
which we do know more are characterised in such a 
manner that we find that it is a sacred land to which 
those flowing to the South towards Hel hasten their 
course, and that it is an unholy land which is sought by 
those which send their streams to the north down into 
Nifelhel. The rivers Gjoll and Leiptr fall down into 
Hel, and Gjoll is, as already indicated, characterised by 
a bridge of gold, Leiptr by a shining, clear, and most holy 



water. Down there in the South are found the mystic 
Hodd-goda, surrounded by other Hel-rivers; Balder's 
and the dsmegir's citadel (perhaps identical with Hodd- 
goda) ; Mimer's fountain, seven times overlaid with gold, 
the fountain of inspiration and of the creative force, over 
which the "overshadowing holy tree" spreads its branches 
(Voluspa), and around whose reed-wreathed edge the 
seed of poetry grows (Eilif Gudrunson) ; the Glittering 
Fields, with flowers which never fade and with harvests 
which never are gathered; Urd's fountain, over which 
Ygdrasil stands for ever green (Voluspa), and in whose 
silver-white waters swans swim; and the sacred thing- 
stead of the Asas, to which they daily ride down over 
Bi frost. North of the mountain roars the weapon-hurling 
Slid, and doubtless is the same river as that in whose 
"heavy streams" the souls of nithings must wade. In the 
North solu fjarri stands, also at Nastrands, that hall, the 
walls of which are braided of serpents (Voluspa). Thus 
Hel is described as an Elysium, Nifelhel with its subject 
regions as a realm of unhappiness. 

Yet a few words about Hvergelmer, from and to which 
"all waters find their way." This statement in Grimners- 
mal is of course true of the greatest of all waters, the 
ocean. The myth about Hvergelmer and its subter- 
ranean connection with the ocean gave our ancestors the 
explanation of ebb- and flood-tide. High up in the 
northern channels the bottom of the ocean opened itself 
in a hollow tunnel, which led down to the "kettle-roarer," 
"the one roaring in his basin" (this seems to be the 
meaning of Hvergelmir: /zzwr=kettle ; galm=Anglo 



Saxon gealm, a roaring). When the waters of the ocean 
poured through this tunnel down into the Hades-well 
there was ebb-tide ; when it returned water from its super- 
abundance there was flood-tide (see Nos. 79, 80, 81). 

Adam of Bremen had heard this tunnel mentioned in 
connection with the story about the Frisian noblemen who 
went by sea to the furthest north, came to the land of 
subterranean giants, and plundered their treasures (see 
No. 48). On the way up some of the ships of the 
Frisians got into the eddy caused by the tunnel, and were 
sucked with terrible violence down into the lower world.* 

Charlemagne's contemporary, Paul Varnefrid (Diaco- 
nus), relates in his history of the Longobardians that he 
had talked with men who had been in Scandinavia. 
Among remarkable reports which they gave him of the 
regions of the far north was also that of a maelstrom, 
which swallows ships, and sometimes even casts them up 
again (see Nos. 15, 79, 80, 81). 

Between the death-kingdom and the ocean there was, 
therefore, one connecting link, perhaps several. Most 
of the people who drowned did not remain* with Ran. 
^gir's wife received them hospitably, according to the 
Icelandic sagas of the middle age. She had a hall in the 
bottom of the sea, where they were welcomed and offered 
sess ok rekkju (seat and bed). Her realm was only an 
ante-chamber to the realms of death (Kormak, Sona- 

*"Et ecce instabilis Oceani Euripus, ad initia qusedam fontis sui arcana 
recurrens, infelices nautas jam desperates, immo de morte sola cogitantes, 
vehementisslmo inrpetu traxit ad Chaos. Hanc dicunt esse voraglnem 
abyssi, illud profundum, in quo fama est omnes maris recursus, qui decres- 
cere videntur, absorber! et denuo removi, quod fluctuatio dici solet" (De sitit 
Danive, ed. Mad., p. 159). 



The demon Nidhog, which by Gylfaginning is thrown 
into Hvergelmer is, according to the ancient records, a 
winged dragon flying about, one of several similar mon- 
sters which have their abode in Nifelhel and those lower 
regions, and which seek to injure that root of the world- 
tree which is nearest to them, that is the northern one, 
which stands over Nifelhel and stretches its rootlets south- 
ward over Mount Hvergelmer and down into its great 
water-reservoir (Grimnersmal, 34, 35). Like all the 
Aryan mythologies, the Teutonic also knew this sort of 
monsters, and did so long before the word "dragon" 
{drake} was borrowed from southern kinsmen as a name 
for them. Nidhog abides now on Nastrands, where, by 
the side of a wolf-demon, it tortures ndir (corpses), now 
on the Nida Mountains, whence the vala in Voluspa sees 
him flying away with ndir under his wings. Nowhere 
(except in Gylfaginning) is it said that he lives in the well 
Hvergelmer, though it is possible that he, in spite of his 
wings, was conceived as an amphibious being which also 
could subsist in the water. Tradition tells of dragons 
who dwell in marshes and swamps. 

The other two subterranean fountains, Urd's and 
Mimer's, and the roots of Ygdrasil standing over them, 
are well protected against the influence of the foes of 
creation, and have their separate guardians. Mimer, with 
his sons and the beings subject to him, protects and guards 
his root of the tree, Urd and her sisters hers, and to the 
latter all the victorious gods of Asgard come every day 
to hold counsel. Was the northern root of Ygdrasil, 
which spreads over the realms of the frost-giants, of the 



demons, and of the damned, and was Hvergelmer, which 
waters this root and received sd important a position in 
the economy of the world-tree, left in the mythology 
without protection and without a guardian? Hvergel- 
mer we know is situated on the watershed, where we have 
the death-borders between Hel and Nifelhel fortified with 
abysses and gates, and is consequently situated in the 
immediate vicinity of beings hostile to gods and men. 
Here, if anywhere, there was need o>f valiant and vigilant 
watchers. Ygdrasil needs its northern root as well as the 
others, and if Hvergelmer was not allowed undisturbed to 
conduct the circuitous flow of all waters, the world would 
be either dried up or drowned. 

Already, long before the creation of the world, there 
flowed from Hvergelmer that broad river called Elivdgar, 
which in its extreme north froze into that ice, which, when 
it melted, formed out of its dropping venom the primeval 
giant Ymer (Vafthr., 31; Gylfag., 5). After creation 
this river like Hvergelmer, whence it rises and Nifelhel, 
into which it empties, become integral parts of the 
northern regions of the lower world. Elivdgar, also 
called Hraunn Hronn, sends in its upper course, where it 
runs near the crust of the earth, a portion of its waters 
up to it, and forms between Midgard and the upper 
Jotunheim proper, the river Vimur, which is also called 
Elivagar and Hraunn, like the parent stream (cp. Hymer- 
skv., 5, 38; Grimnersm., 28; Skaldskaparm., ch. 3, 16, 
18, 19, and Helg. Hj., 25). Elivagar separates the realm 
of the giants and frost-giants from the other "worlds." 

South of Elivagar the gods have an "outgard," a 



"saether" which is inhabited by valiant watchers snotrir 
vikingar they are called in Thorsdrapa, 8 who are bound 
by oaths to serve the gods. Their chief is Egil, the most 
famous archer in the mythology (Thorsdrapa, 1, 8; cp. 
Hymiskv., 7, 38 ; Skaldskap., ch. 16). As such he is also 
called Orvandel (the one busy with the arrow). This 
Egil is the guardian entrusted with the care of Hvergel- 
mer and Elivagar. Perhaps it is for this reason that he 
has a brother and fellow-warrior who is called Ide (Idi 
from Ida, a fountain with eddying waters). The "sseter" 
is called "Ides sseter" (Thorsdrapa, 1). The services 
which he as watcher on Mt. Hvergelmer and on the Eliva- 
gar renders to the regions of bliss in the lower world are 
so great that, although he does not belong to the race of 
the gods by birth or by adoption, he still enjoys among 
the inhabitants of Hel so great honour and gratitude that 
they confer divine honours on him. He is "the one wor- 
shipped in Hel who scatters the clouds which rise storm- 
threatening over the mountain of the lower world," hel- 
blotinn hneitr undir-fjalfrs bliku (Thorsdr., 19). The 
storm-clouds which Are, Hrcesvelgr, and other storm- 
demons of Nifelheim send to the elysian fields of the 
death-kingdom, must, in order to get there, surmount Mt. 
Hvergelmer, but there they are scattered by the faithful 
watchman. Now in company with Thor, and now alone, 
Egil-Orvandel has made many remarkable journeys to 
Jotunheim. Next after Thor, he was the most formid- 
able foe of the giants, and in connection with Heimdal he 
zealously watched their every movement. The myth in 
regard to him is fully discussed in the treatise on the 



Ivalde-sons which forms a part of this work, and there 
the proofs will be presented for the identity of Orvandel 
and Egil. I simply desire to point out here, in order to 
present complete evidence later, that Ygdrasil's northern 
root and the corresponding part of the lower world also 
had their defenders and watchmen, and I also wished to 
call attention to the manner in which the name Hel is 
employed in the word Helblotinn. We find it to be in 
harmony with the use of the same word in those passages 
of the poetic Edda which we have hitherto examined. 



In Skirnersmal (strophe 21) occurs the expression 
horfa ok snugga Heljar til. It is of importance to our 
theme to investigate and explain the connection in which 
it is found. 

The poem tells that Frey sat alone, silent and longing, 
ever since he had seen the giant Gymer's wonderfully 
beautiful daughter Gerd. He wasted with love for her; 
but he said nothing, since he was convinced in advance 
that neither Asas nor Elves would ever consent to a 
union between him and her. But when the friend of his 
youth, who resided in Asgard, and in the poem is called 
Skirner, succeeded in getting him to confess the cause of 
his longing, it was, in Asgard, found necessary to do 



something to relieve it, and so Skirner was sent to the 
home of the giant to ask for the hand of Gerd on Prey's 
behalf. As bridal gifts he took with him eleven golden 
apples and the ring Draupnir. He received one of the 
best horses of Asgard to ride, and for his defence Prey's 
magnificient sword, "which fights of itself against the race 
of giants." In the poem this sword receives the epithets 
Tams-vondr (str. 26) and Gambanteinn (str. 32). Tams- 
vondr, means the "staff that subdues;" Gambanteinn 
means the "rod of revenge" (see Nos. 105, 116). Both 
epithets are formed in accordance with the common poetic 
usage of describing swords by compound words of which 
the latter part is vondr or teinn. We find, as names for 
swords, benvondr, blodvondr, hjaltvondr, hridvondr, hvit- 
vondr, mordvondr, sarvondr, benteinn, eggteinn, h&va- 
teinn, hjorteinn, hr&teinn, sarteinn, valteinn, mutelteinn. 

Skirner rides over damp fells and the fields of giants, 
leaps, after a quarrel with the watchman of Gymer's 
citadel, over the fence, comes in to Gerd, is welcomed 
with ancient mead, and presents his errand of courtship, 
supported by the eleven golden apples. Gerd refuses 
both the apples and the object of the errand. Skirner 
then offers her the most precious treasure, the ring Draup- 
nir, but in vain. Then he resorts to threats, He exhibits 
the sword so dangerous to her kinsmen ; with it he will cut 
off her head if she refuses her consent. Gerd answers 
that she is not to be frightened, and that she has a father 
who is not afraid to fight. Once more Skirner shows her 
the sword, which also may fell her father (ser thu thenna 
maki, mey, &c.), and he threatens to strike her with the 

6 427 


"subduing staff," so that her heart shall soften, but too 
late for her happiness, for a blow from the staff will 
remove her thither, where sons of men never more shall 
see her. 

Tamsvendi ec thic drep, 
enn ec thic temia mun, 
mer! at minom munom; 
that skaltu ganga 
er thic gumna synir 
sithan eva se (str. 26). 

This is the former threat of death repeated in another 
form. The former did not frighten her. But tihat which 
now overwhelms her with dismay is the description Skir- 
ner gives her of the lot that awaits her in the realm of 
death, whither she is destined she, the giant maid, if 
she dies by the avenging wrath of the gods (gamban- 
reidi). She shall then come to that region whith is 
situated below the Na-gates (fyr ndgrindr nethan str. 
35), and which is inhabited by frost-giants who, as we 
shall find, do not deserve the name mannasynir, even 
though the word menn be taken in its most common sense, 
and made to embrace giants of the masculine kind. 

This phrase fyr ndgrindr nethan must have been a 
stereotyped eschatological term applied to a particular 
division, a particular realm in the lower wodd. In Loka- 
senna (str. 63), Thor says to Loke, after the latter has 
emptied his phials of rash insults upon the gods, that if 
he does not hold his tongue the hammer M joiner shall 
send him to Hel fyr ndgrindr nethan. Hel is here used 
in its widest sense, and this is limited by the addition of 



the words "below the Na-gates," so as to refer to a partic- 
ular division of the lower world. As we find by the 
application of the phrase to Loke, this division is of such 
a character that it is intended to receive the foes of the 
Asas and the insulters of the gods. 

The word Nagrind, which is always used in the plural, 
and accordingly refers to more than one gate of the kind, 
has as its first part ndr (pi. nair), which means corpse, 
dead body. Thus Na-gates means Corpse-gates. 

The name must seem strange, for it is not dead bodies, 
but souls, released from their bodies left on earth, which 
descend to the kingdom of death and get their various 
abodes there. How far our heathen ancestors had a 
more or less material conception of the soul is a question 
which it is not necessary to discuss here (see on this point 
No. 95). Howsoever they may have regarded it, the 
very existence of a Hades in their mythology demon- 
strates that they believed that a conscious and sentient 
element in man was in death separated from the body 
with which it had been united in life, and went down to 
the lower world. That the body from which this con- 
scious, sentient element fled was not removed to Hades, but 
went in this upper earth to its disintegration, whether it 
was burnt or buried in a mound or sunk to the bottom of 
the sea, this our heathen ancestors knew just as well as 
we know it. The people of the stone-age already knew 

The phrase Na-gates does not stand alone in our mytho- 
logical eschatology. One of the abodes of torture lying 
within the Na-gate is called Nastrands (Ndstrandir) , and 



is described in Voluspa as filled with terrors. And the 
victims, which Nidhog, the winged demon of the lower 
world, there sucks, are called ndir framgenga, "the corpses 
of those departed." 

It is manifest that the word ndr thus used cannot have 
its common meaning, but must be used in a special mytho- 
logical sense, which had its justification and its explana- 
tion in the heathen doctrine in regard to the lower world. 

It not unfrequently happens that law-books preserve 
ancient significations of words not found elsewhere in 
literature. The Icelandic law-book Gragas (ii. 185) 
enumerates four categories within which the word ndr is 
applicable to a person yet living. Gallows-wzr, can be 
called, even while living, the person who is hung; grave- 
ndr, the person placed in a grave; skerry-war or rock-war 
may, while yet alive, he be called who has been exposed 
to die on a skerry or rock. Here the word ndr is accord- 
ingly applied to persons who are conscious and capable of 
suffering, but on the supposition that they are such per- 
sons as have been condemned to a punishment which is not 
to cease so long as they are sensitive to it. 

And this is the idea on the basis of which the word 
ndir is mythologically applied to the damned and tortured 
beings in the lower world. 

If we now take into account that our ancestors believed 
in a second death, in a slaying of souls in Hades, then we 
find that this same use of the word in question, which at 
first sight could not but seem strange, is a consistent 
development of the idea that those banished from Hel's 
realms of bliss die a second time, when they are trans- 



ferred across the border to Nifelhel and the world of 
torture. When they are overtaken by this second death 
they are for the second time ndir. And, as this occurs at 
the gates of Nifelhel, it was perfectly proper to call the 
gates ndgrindr. 

We may imagine that it is terror, despair, or rage 
which, at the sight of the Na-gates, severs the bond 
between the damned spirit and his Hades-body, and that 
the former is anxious to soar away from its terrible 
destination. But however this may be, the avenging 
powers have runes, which capture the fugitive, put chains 
on his Hades-body, and force him to feel with it. The 
Sun-song, a Christian song standing on the scarcely 
crossed border of heathendom, speaks of damned ones 
whose breasts were risted (carved) with bloody runes, 
and Havamal of runes which restore consciousness to 
ndir. Such runes are known by Odin. If he sees in a 
tree a gallows-war (zrirgil-ndr), then he can rist runes so 
that the body comes down to him and talks with him (see 
No. 70). 

E'f ec se a tre uppi 

vafa virgilna, 

sva ec rist 

oc i runom fac, 

at sa gengr gumi 

oc maelir vith mic (Havamal, 157). 

Some of the subterranean ndir have the power of 
motion, and are doomed to wade in "heavy streams." 
Among them are perjurers, murderers, and adulterers 
(Voluspa, 38). Among these streams is Vadgelmer, in 


which they who have slandered others find their far-reach- 
ing retribution (Sigurdarkv., ii. 4). Other ndir have the 
peculiarity which their appellation suggests, and receive 
quiet and immovable, stretched on iron benches, their 
punishment (see below). Saxo, who had more elaborate 
descriptions of the Hades of heathendom than those which 
have been handed down to our time, translated or repro- 
duced in his accounts of Hadding's and Gorm's journeys 
in the lower world the word ndir with exsanguia simulacra 
(p. 426). 

That place after death with which Skirner threatens the 
stubborn Gerd is also situated within the Na-gates, but 
still it has another character than Nastrands and the other 
abodes of torture which are situated below Nifelhel. It 
would also have been unreasonable to threaten a person 
who rejects a marriage proposal with those punishments 
which overtake criminals and nithings. The Hades 
division, which Skirner describes as awaiting the giant- 
daughter, is a subterranean Jotunheim, inhabited by 
deceased ancestors and kinsmen of Gerd. 

Mythology has given to the giants as well as to men a 
life hereafter. As a matter of fact, mythology never 
destroys life. The horse which was cremated with its 
master on his funeral pyre, and was buried with him in 
his grave-mound, afterwards brings the hero down to 
Hel. When the giant who built the Asgard wall got 
into conflict with the gods, Thor's hammer sent him 
"down below Nifelhel" (nidr undir Niflhel Gylfag., 
ch. 43.) King Gorm saw in the lower world the giant 
Geirrod and both his daughters. According to Grimners- 



mal (str. 31), frost-giants dwell under one of Ygdrasil's 
roots consequently in the lower world; and Forspjalls- 
Ijod says that hags (giantesses) and thurses (giants), 
ndir, dwarfs, and swarthy elves go to sleep under the 
world-tree's farthest root on the north border of Jormun- 
grund* (the lower world), when Dag on a chariot spark- 
ling with precious stones leaves the lower world, and when 
Nat after her journey on the heavens has returned to her 
home (str. 24, 28). It is therefore quite in order if we, 
in Skirner's description of the realm which after death 
awaits the giant-daughter offending the gods, rediscover 
that part of the lower world to which the drowned prime- 
val ancestors of the giant-maid were relegated when Bor's 
sons opened the veins of Ymer's throat (Sonatorr., str. 
3) and then let the billows of the ocean wash clean the 
rocky ground of earth, before they raised the latter from 
the sea and there created the inhabitable Midgard. 

The frost-giants (rimethurses) are the primeval giants 
(gigantes) of the Teutonic mythology, so called because 
they sprang from the frost-being Ymer, whose feet by 
contact with each other begat their progenitor, the 
"strange-headed" monster Thrudgelmer (Vafthr. 29, 33). 
Their original home in chaos was Nifelheim. From the 
Hvergelmer fountain there the Elivagar rivers flowed to 
the north and became hoar-frost and ice, which, melted 
by warmth from the south, were changed into drops of 
venom, which again became Ymer, called by the giants 
Aurgelmer (Vafthr., 31; Gylfag., 5). Thrudgelmer 

*With this name of the lower world compare Gudmund-Mimer's abode 
d Grund (see No. 45), and Helligrund (Heliand., 44, 22), and neowla grund 
(Caedmon, 267, 1, 270, 16). 



begat Bergelmer countless winters before the earth was 
made (Vafthr., 29 ; Gylf., ch. 7). Those members of the 
giant race living in Jotunheim on the surface of the earth, 
whose memory goes farthest back in time, can remember 
Bergelmer when he a var ludr um lagidr. At least Vafth- 
rudmer is able to do this (Vafthr., 35). 

When the original giants had to abandon the fields 
populated by Bor's sons (Voluspa, 4), they received an 
abode corresponding as nearly as possible to their first 
home, and, as it seems, identical with it, excepting that 
Nifelheim now, instead of being a part of chaos, is an 
integral part of the cosmic universe, and the extreme north 
of its Hades. As a Hades-realm it is also called Nifelhel. 

In the subterranean land with which Skirner threatens 
Gerd, and which he paints for her in appalling colours, 
he mentions three kinds of beings (1) frost-giants, the 
ancient race of giants; (2) demons; (3) giants of the 
later race. 

The frost-giants occupy together one abode, which, 
judging from its epithet, hall (holl), is the largest and 
most important there ; while those members of the younger 
giant clan who are there, dwell in single scattered abodes, 
called gards.* Gerd is also there to have a separate 
abode (str. 28). 

Two frost-giants are mentioned by name, which shows 
that they are representatives of their clan. One is named 
Rimgrimner (Hrimgrimnir str. 35), the other Rimner 
(Hrimnir str. 28). 

Grimner is one of Odin's many surnames (Grimners- 

*Compare the phrase iotna gaurthum i (str. 30, 3) with til hrimthursa 
hallar (30, 4). 



mal, 47, and several other places; cp. Egilsson's Lex. 
Poet.) . Rimgrimner means the same as if Odin had said 
Rim-Odin, for Odin's many epithets could without hesita- 
tion be used by the poets in paraphrases, even when these 
referred to a giant. But the name Odin was too sacred 
for such a purpose. Upon the whole the skalds seem 
piously to have abstained from using that name in para- 
phrases, even when the latter referred to celebrated princes 
and heroes. Glum Geirason is the first known exception to 
the rule. He calls a king Mdlm-Odinn. The above 
epithet places Rimgrimner in the same relation to the 
frost-giants as Odin-Grimner sustains to the asas; it 
characterises him as the race-chief and clan-head of the 
former, and in this respect gives him the same place as 
Thrudgelmer occupies in Vafthrudnersmal. Ymer can- 
not be regarded as the special clan-chief of the frost- 
giants, since he is also the progenitor of other classes of 
beings (see Vafthr., 33, and Voluspa, 9; cp. Gylfag., ch. 
14). But they have other points of resemblance. Thrud- 
gelmer is "strange-headed" in Vafthrudnersmal; Rim- 
grimner is "three-headed" in Skirnersmal (str. 31; cp. 
with str. 35). Thus we have in one poem a "strange- 
headed" Thrudgelmer as progenitor of the frost-giants; 
in the other poem a "three-headed" Rimgrimner as pro- 
genitor of the same frost-giants. The "strange-headed" 
giant of the former poem, which is a somewhat indefinite 
or obscure phrase, thus finds in "three-headed" of the 
latter poem its further definition. To this is to be added 
a power which is possessed both by Thrudgelmer and 
Rimgrimner, and also a weakness for which both Thrud- 



gelmer and Rimgrimner are blamed. Thrudgelmer s 
father begat children without possessing gygjar gaman 
(Vafthr., 32). That Thrudgelmer inherited this power 
from his strange origin and handed it down to the clan 
of frost-giants, and that he also inherited the inability to 
provide for the perpetuation of the race in any other way, 
is evident from Allvismal, str. 2. If we make a careful 
examination, we find that Skirnersmal presupposes this 
same positive and negative quality in Rimgrimner, and 
consequently Thrudgelmer and Rimgrimner must be 

Gerd, who tries to reject the love of the fair and 
blithe Vana-god, will, according to Skirner's threats, be 
punished therefor in the lower world with the complete 
loss of all that is called love, tenderness, and sympathy. 
Skirner says that she either must live alone and without a 
husband in the lower world, or else vegetate in a useless 
cohabitation (nara) with the three-headed giant (str. 31). 
The threat is gradually emphasised to the effect that she 
shall be possessed by Rimgrimner, and this threat is made 
immediately after the solemn conjuration (str. 34) in 
which Skirner invokes the inhabitants of Nifelhel and also 
of the regions of bliss, as witnesses, that she shall never 
gladden or be gladdened by a man in the physical sense 
of this word. 

Hear, ye giants, Heyri iotnar, 

Hear, frost-giants, heyri hrimthursar, 

Ye sons of Suttung synir Suttunga, 

Nay, thou race of the Asa-god!* sjalfir aslithar 

*With race of the Asa-god dslidar there can hardly be meant others 
than the dsmegir gathered in the lower world around 'Balder. This is the 
only place where the word dslidar occurs. 



how I forbid, hve ec fyr byd, 

how I banish hve ec fyrir banna 

man's gladness from the maid, manna glaum mani 

man's enjoyment from the maid! manna nyt mani. 

Rimgrimner is the giant's name Hrimgrimner heiter thurs, 

who shall possess thee er thic hafa seal 

below the Na-gates. fyr nagrindr nedan. 

More plainly, it seems to me, Skirner in speaking to Gerd 
could not have expressed the negative quality of Rim- 
grimner in question. Thor also expresses himself clearly 
on the same subject when he meets the dwarf Alvis carry- 
ing home a maid over whom Thor has the right of mar- 
riage. Thor says scornfully that he thinks he discovers 
in Alvis something which reminds him of the nature of 
thurses, although Alvis is a dwarf and the thurses are 
giants, and he further defines wherein this similarity con- 
sists : thursa lid thicci mer a ther vera; erat thu till bntdar 
borinn: "Thurs' likeness you seem to me to have; you 
were not born to have a bride." So far as the positive 
quality is concerned it is evident from the fact that Rim- 
grimner is the progenitor of the frost-giants. 

Descended to Nifelhel, Gerd must not count on a 
shadow of friendship and sympathy from her kinsmen 
there. It would be best for her to confine herself in the 
solitary abode which there awaits her, for if she but 
looks out of the gate, staring gazes shall meet her from 
Rimner and all the others down there ; and she shall there 
be looked upon with more hatred than Heimdal, the 
watchman of the gods, who is the wise, always vigilant 
foe of the rime-thurses and giants. But whether she is at 
home or abroad, demons and tormenting spirits shall 



never leave her in peace. She shall be bowed to the earth 
by tramar (evil witches). Morn (a Teutonic Eumenides, 
the agony of the soul personified) shall fill her with his 
being. The spirits of sickness such also dwell there; 
they once took an oath not to harm Balder (Gylf., ch. 
50) shall increase her woe and the flood of her tears. 
Tope (insanity), Ope (hysteria), Tjausul and Othale 
(constant restlessness), shall not leave her in peace. 
These spirits are also counted as belonging to the race of 
thurses, and hence it is said in the rune-song that thurs 
veldr kvenna kvillu, "thurs causes sickness of women." 
In this connection it should be remembered that the 
daughter of Loke, the ruler of Nifelhel, is also the queen 
of diseases. Gerd's food shall be more loathsome to her 
than the poisonous serpent is to man, and her drink shall 
be the most disgusting. Miserable she shall crawl among 
the homes of the Hades giants, and up to a mountain top, 
where Are, a subterranean eagle-demon has his perch 
(doubtless the same Are which, according to Voluspa 
[47] , is to join with his screeches in Rymer's shield-song, 
when the Midgard-serpent writhes in giant-rage, and the 
ship of death, Naglfar, gets loose). Up there she shall 
sit early in the morning, and constantly turn her face in 
the same direction in the direction where Hel is situated, 
that is, south over Mt. Hvergelmer, toward the subter- 
ranean regions of bliss. Toward Hel she shall long to 
come in vain : 

Ara thufo a 

scaltu ar sitja 

horfa ok snugga Heljar til. 



"On Are's perch thou shalt early sit, turn toward Hel, 
and long to get to Hel." 

By the phrase snugga Heljar til, the skald has meant 
something far more concrete than to "long for death." 
Gerd is here supposed to be dead, and within the Na-gates. 
To long for death, she does not need to crawl up to "Are's 
perch." She must subject herself to these nightly exer- 
tions, so that when it dawns in the foggy Nifelhel, she 
may get a glimpse of that land of bliss to which she may 
never come; she who rejected a higher happiness that 
of being with the gocjs and possessing Frey's love. 

I have been somewhat elaborate in the presentation of 
this description in Skirnersmal, which has not hitherto 
been understood. I have done so, because it is the only 
evidence left to us of how life was conceived in the fore- 
court of the regions of torture, Nifelhel, the land situated 
below Ygdrasil's northern root, beyond and below the 
mountain, where the root is watered by Hvergelmer. It 
is plain that the author of Skirnersmal, like that of Vafth- 
rudnersmal, Grimnersmal, Vegtamskvida, and Thors- 
drapa (as we have already seen), has used the word Hel 
in the sense of a place of bliss in the lower world. It is 
also evident that with the root under which the frost- 
giant dwells that one, referred to by Gylfaginning, can 
impossibly be meant under which Mimer's glorious foun- 
tain, and Mimer's grove, and all his treasures stored for 
a future world, are situated. 






We now pass to Voluspa, 40 (Hauk's Codex), where 
the word Helvegir occurs. 

One of the signs that Ragnarok and the fall of the 
world are at hand, is that the mighty ash Ygdrasil 
trembles, and that a fettered giant-monster thereby gets 
loose from its chains. Which this monster is, whether 
it is Garm, bound above the Gnipa cave, or some other, 
we will not now discuss. The astonishment and con- 
fusion caused by these events among all the beings of the 
world, are described in the poem with but few words, 
but they are sufficient for the purpose and well calculated 
to make a deep impression upon the hearers. Terror is 
the predominating feeling in those beings which are not 
chosen to take part in the impending conflict. They, on 
the other hand, for whom the quaking of Ygdrasil is the 
signal of battle for life or death, either arm themselves 
amid a terrible war-cry for the battle (the giants, str. 41), 
or they assemble to hold the last council (the Asas), and 
then rush to arms. 

Two classes of beings are mentioned as seized by terror 
the dwarfs, who stood breathless outside of their stone- 
doors, and those beings which are a Helvcgum. Helvegir 
may mean the paths or ways in Hel : there are many paths, 
just as there are many gates and many rivers. Helvegir 
may also mean the regions, districts in Hel (cp. Austr- 
vegr, Sudruegr, Norvegr; and Allvism., 10, according to 



which the Vans call the earth vegir, ways). The author 
may have used the word in either of these senses or in 
both, for in this case it amounts to the same. At all 
events it is stated that the inhabitants in Hel are terrified 
when Ygdrasil quakes and the unnamed giant-monster 
gets loose. 

Skelfr Yggdrasils Quakes Ygdrasil's 

askr standandi, Ash standing, 

ymr hid alldna tre The old tree trembles, 

enn iotunn losnar; The giant gets loose; 

hraedaz allir All are frightened 

a Helvegum On the Helways (in Hel's regions) 

adr Surtar thann ere Surt's spirit (or kinsman) 

sevi of gleypir. swallows him (namely, the giant). 

Suit's spirit, or kinsman (sevi, sefi may mean either), 
is, as has also hitherto been supposed, the fire. The final 
episode in the conflict on Vigrid's plain is that the Muspel- 
flames destroy the last remnant of the contending giants. 
The terror which, when the world-tree quaked and the 
unnamed giant got loose, took possession of the inhabit- 
ants of Hel continues so long as the conflict is undecided. 
Valfather falls, Frey and Thor likewise; no one can know 
who is to be victorious. But the terror ceases when on 
the one hand the liberated giant-monster is destroyed, and 
on the other hand Vidar and Vale, Mode and Magne, 
survive the conflict and survive the flames, which do not 
penetrate to Balder and Hodr and their proteges in Hel. 
The word thann (him), which occurs in the seventh line 
of the strophe (in the last of the translation) can impossi- 
bly refer to any other than the giant mentioned in the 



fourth line (iotunn}. There are in the strophe only two 
masculine words to which the masculine thann can be 
referred iotunn and Yggdrasils askr. lotunn, which 
stands nearest to thann, thus has the preference ; and as we 
have seen that the world-tree falls by neither fire nor edge 
(Fjolsv., 20), and as it, in fact, survives the conflagration 
of Suit, then thann must naturally be referred to the 

Here Voluspa has furnished us with evidence in regard 
to the position of Hel's inhabitants towards the contending 
parties in Ragnarok. They who are frightened when a 
giant-monster a most dangerous one, as it hitherto had 
been chained gets free from its fetters, and they whose 
fright is allayed when the monster is destroyed in the con- 
flagration of the world, such beings can impossibly 
follow this monster and its fellow warriors with their 
good wishes. Their hearts are on the side of the good 
powers, which are friendly to mankind. But they do not 
take an active part in their behalf ; they take no part what- 
ever in the conflict. This is manifest from the fact that 
their fright does not cease before the conflict is ended. 
Now we know that among the inhabitants in Hel are the 
dsmegir Lif and Leifthraser and their offspring, and that 
they are not hertharfir; they are not to be employed in 
war, since their very destiny forbids their taking an active 
part in the events of this period of the world (see No. 53). 
But the text does not permit us to think of them alone 
when we are to determine who the beings a Helvegum are. 
For the text says that all, who are a Helvegum, are 
alarmed until the conflict is happily ended. What the 



interpreters of this much abused passage have failed to 
see, the seeress in Voluspa has not forgotten, that, namely, 
during the lapse of countless thousands of years, innumer- 
able children and women, and men who never wielded 
the sword, have descended to the kingdom of death and 
received dwellings in Hel, and that Hel in the limited 
local sense which the word hitherto has appeared to have 
in the songs of the gods does not contain warlike inhabi- 
tants. Those who have fallen on the battle-field come, 
indeed, as shall be shown later, to Hel, but not to remain 
there; they continue their journey to Asgard, for Odin 
chooses one half of those slain on the battlefield for his 
dwelling, and Freyja the other half ( Grimnersmal, 14). 
The chosen accordingly have Asgard as their place of 
destination, which they reach in case they are not found 
guilty by a sentence which neutralises the force and 
effect of the previous choice (see below), and sends them 
to die the second death on crossing the boundary to 
Nifelhel. Warriors who have not fallen on the battle- 
field are as much entitled to Asgard as those fallen by the 
sword, provided they as heroes have acquired fame and 
honour. It might, of course, happen to the greatest 
general and the most distinguished hero, the conqueror in 
hundreds of battles, that he might die from sickness or an 
accident, while, on the other hand, it might be that a man 
who never wielded a sword in earnest might fall on the 
field of battle before he had given a blow. That the 
mythology should make the latter entitled to Asgard, but 
not the former, is an absurdity as void of support in the 
records on the contrary, these give the opposite testi- 

7 443 


mony as it is of sound sense. The election contained 
for the chosen ones no exclusive privilege. It did not 
even imply additional favour to one who, independently 
of the election, could count on a place among the einherjes. 
The election made the person going to battle feigr, which 
was not a favour, nor could it be considered the opposite. 
It might play a royal crown from the head of the chosen 
one to that of his enemy, and this could not well be 
regarded as a kindness. But for the electing powers of 
Asgard themselves the election implied a privilege. The 
dispensation of life and death regularly belonged to the 
norns; but the election partly supplied the gods with an 
exception to this rule, and partly it left to Odin the right 
to determine the fortunes and issues of battles. The 
question of the relation between the power of the gods and 
that of fate a question which seemed to the Greeks and 
Romans dangerous to meddle with and well-nigh impossi- 
ble to dispose of was partly solved by the Teutonic 
mythology by the. naive and simple means of dividing 
the dispensation of life and death between the divinity 
and fate, which, of course, did not hinder that fate always 
stood as the dark, inscrutable power in the background of 
all events. (On election see further, No. 66). 

It follows that in Hel's regions of bliss there remained 
none that were warriors by profession. Those among 
them who were not guilty of any of the sins which the 
Asa-doctrine stamped as sins unto death passed through 
Hel to Asgard, the others through Hel to Nifelhel. All 
the inhabitants on Hel's elysian fields accordingly are the 
dsmegir, and the women, children, and the agents of the 



peaceful arts who have died during countless centuries, 
and who unused to the sword, have no place in the ranks 
of the einherjes, and therefore with the anxiety of those 
waiting abide the issue of the conflict. Such is the back- 
ground and contents of the Voluspa strophe. This would 
long since have been understood, had not the doctrine 
constructed by Gylfaginning in regard to the lower world, 
with Troy as the starting-point, bewildered the judgment. 




In Allvismal occurs the phrases : those i helio and halir. 
The premise of the poem is that such objects as earth, 
heaven, moon, sun, night, wind, fire, &c., are expressed in 
six different ways, and that each one of these ways of 
expression is, with the exclusion of the others, applicable 
within one or two of the classes of beings found in the 
world. For example, Heaven is called 

Himinn among men, 

Lyrner among gods, 

Vindofner among Vans, 

Uppheim among giants. 

Elves say Fager-tak (Fairy-roof), 

dwarfs Drypsal (dropping-hall) (str. 12). 

In this manner thirteen objects are mentioned, each one 
with its six names. In all of the thirteen cases man has 
a way of his own of naming the objects. Likewise the 
giants. No other class of beings has any of the thirteen 



appellations in common with them. On the other hand, 
the Asas and Vans have the same name for two objects 
(moon and sun) ; elves and dwarfs have names in common 
for no less than six objects (cloud, wind, fire, tree, seed, 
mead) ; the dwarfs and the inhabitants of the lower 
world for three (heaven, sea, and calm). Nine times it 
is stated how those in the lower world express themselves. 
In six of these nine cases Allvismal refers to the inhabi- 
tants of the lower world by the general expression "those 
in Hel;" in three cases the poem lets "those in Hel" be 
represented by some one of those classes of beings that 
reside in Hel. These three are upregin (str. 10), dsasy- 
nir (str. 16), and halir (str. 28). 

The very name upregin suggests that it refers to beings 
of a certain divine rank (the Vans are in Allvismal called 
ginnregin, str. 20^ 30) that have their sphere of activity 
in the upper world. As they none the less dwell in the 
lower world, the appellation must have reference to beings 
which have their homes and abiding places in Hel when 
they are not occupied with their affairs in the world 
above. These beings are Nat, Dag, Mane, Sol. 

Asasynir has the same signification as dsmegir. As 
this is the case, and as the dsmegir dwell in the lower 
world and the dsasynir likewise, then they must be identi- 
cal, unless we should be credulous enough to assume that 
there were in the lower world two categories of beings, 
both called sons of Asas. 

Halir, when the question is about the lower world, 
means the souls of the dead (Vafthr., 43 ; see above). 

From this we find that Allvismal employs the word 



Hel in such a manner that it embraces those regions where 
Nat and Dag, Mane and Sol, the living human inhabitants 
of Mimer's grove, and the souls of departed human beings 
dwell. Among the last-named are included also souls of 
the damned, which are found in the abodes of torture 
below Nifelhel, and it is within the limits of possibility 
that the author of the poem also had them in mind, 
though there is not much probability that he should con- 
ceive them as having a nomenclature in common with 
gods, asmegw, and the happy departed. At all events, 
he has particularly and probably exclusively had in his 
mind the regions of bliss when he used the word Hel, in 
which case he has conformed in the use of the word to 
Voluspa, Vafthrudnersmal, Grimnersmal, Skirnersmal, 
Vegtamskvida, and Thorsdrapa. 



While a terrible winter is raging, the gods, according 
to Forspjallsljod,* send messengers, with Heimdal as 
chief, down to a lower-world goddess (dis), who is 

*Of the age and genuineness of Forspjallsljod I propose to publish a 

separate treatise. 



designated as Gj oil's (the lower world river's) Sunna 
(Sol, sun) and as the distributor of the divine liquids 
(str. 9, 11) to beseech her to explain to them the mystery 
of creation, the beginning of heaven, of Hel, and of the 
world, life and death, if she is able (hlyrnis, heliar, helms 
of vissi, drtith, aft, aldrtila). The messengers get only 
tears as an answer. The poem divides the universe into 
three great divisions: heaven, Hel, and the part lying 
between Hel and heaven, the world inhabited by mortals. 
Thus Hel is here used in its general sense, and refers to 
the whole lower world. But here, as wherever Hel has this 
general signification, it appears that the idea of regions of 
punishment is not thought of, but is kept in the back- 
ground by the definite antithesis in which the word Hel, 
used in its more common and special sense of the subter- 
ranean regions of bliss, stands to Nifelhel and the regions 
subject to it. It must be admitted that what the anxious 
gods wish to learn from the wise goddess of the lower 
world must, so far as their desire to know and their fears 
concern the fate of Hel, refer particularly to the regions 
where Urd's and Mimer's holy wells are situated, for if the 
latter, which water the world-tree, pass away, it would 
mean nothing less than the end of the world. That the 
author should make the gods anxious concerning Loke's 
daughter, whom they had hurled into the deep abysses of 
Nifelhel, and that he should make the wise goddess by 
Gjoll weep bitter tears over the future of the sister of the 
Fenris-wolf, is possible in the sense that it cannot be 
refuted by any definite words of the old records ; but we 
may be permitted to regard it as highly improbable. 



Among the passages in which the word Hel occurs in 
the poetic Edda's mythological songs we have yet to men- 
tion Harbardsljod (str. 27), where the expression drepa i 
Hel is employed in the same abstract manner as the 
Swedes use the expression "at sla ihjal/' which means 
simply "to kill" (it is Thor who threatens to kill the in- 
sulting Harbard) ; and also Voluspa (str. 42), Fjolls- 
vinnsmal (str. 25), and Grimnersmal (str. 31). 

Voluspa (str. 42), speaks of Goldcomb, the cock which, 
with its crowing, wakes those who sleep in Herfather's 
abode, and of a sooty-red cock which crows under the 
earth near Hel's halls. In Fjollsvinnsmal (str. 25), 
Svipdag asks with what weapon one might be able to 
bring down to Hel's home (a Heljar sjot) that golden 
cock Vidofner, which sits in Mimer'stree(thQ world-tree), 
and doubtless is identical with Goldcomb. That Vidol- 
ner has done nothing for which he deserves to be punished 
in the home of Loke's daughter may be regarded as prob- 
able. Hel is here used to designate the kingdom of death 
in general, and all that Spivdag seems to mean is that Vid- 
ofner, in case such a weapon could be found, might be 
transferred to his kinsman, the sooty-red cock which crows 
below the earth. Saxo also speaks of a cock which is 
found in Hades, and is with the goddess who has the 
cowbane stalks when she shows Hadding the flower- 
meadows of the lower world, the Elysian fields of those 
fallen by the sword, and the citadel within which death 
does not seem able to enter (see No. 47). Thus there is 
at least one cock in the lower world's realm of bliss. 
That there should be one also in Nifelhel and in the abode 



of Loke's daughter is nowhere mentioned, and is hardly 
credible, since the cock, according to an ancient and wide- 
spread Aryan belief, is a sacred bird, which is the special 
foe of demons and the powers of darkness. According 
to Swedish popular belief, even of the present time, the 
crowing of the cock puts ghosts and spirits to flight ; and 
a similar idea is found in Avesta (Vendidad, 18), where, 
in str. 15, Ahuramazda himself translates the morning 
song of the cock with the following words: "Rise, ye 
men, and praise the justice which is the most perfect! 
Behold the demons are put to flight!" Avesta is naively 
out of patience with thoughtless persons who call this 
sacred bird (Parodarsch) by the so little respect-inspiring 
name "Cockadoodledoo" (Kahrkat&s). The idea of the 
sacredness of the cock and its hostility to demons was also 
found among the Aryans of South Europe and survived 
the introduction of Christianity. Aurelius Prudentius 
wrote a Hymnus ad galli cantum, and the cock has as a 
token of Christian vigilance received the same place on 
the church spires as formerly on the world-tree. Nor 
have the May-poles forgotten him. But in the North 
the poets and the popular language have made the red 
cock a symbol of fire. Fire has two characters it is 
sacred, purifying, and beneficent, when it is handled care- 
fully and for lawful purposes. In the opposite case it is 
destructive. With the exception of this special instance, 
nothing but good is reported of the cocks of mythology 
and poetry. 

Grimnersmal (str. 31) is remarkable from two points 
of view. It contains information brief and scant, it is 



true, but nevertheless valuable in regard to Ygdrasil's 
three roots, and it speaks of Hel in an unmistakable, dis- 
tinctly personal sense. 

In regard to the roots of the world-tree and their po- 
sition, our investigation so far, regardless of Grimners- 
mal (str. 31), has produced the following result: 

Ygdrasil has a northern root. This stands over the 
vast reservoir Hvergelmer and spreads over Nifelhel, 
situated north of Hvergelmer and inhabited by frost- 
giants. There nine regions of punishment are situated, 
among them Nastrands. 

Ygdrasil's second root is watered by Mimer's fountain 
and spreads over the land where Mimer's fountain and 
grove are located. In Mimer's grove dwell those living 
(not dead) beings called Asmeglr and Asasynir, L,if and 
Leifthraser and their offspring, whose destiny it is to peo- 
ple the regenerated earth. 

Ygdrasil's third root stands over Urd's fountain and 
the subterranean thingstead of the gods. 

The lower world consists of two chief divisions Nifel- 
hel (with the regions thereto belonging) and Hel, 
Nifelhel situated north of the Hvergelmer mountain, and 
Hel south of it. Accordingly both the land where Mi- 
mer's well and grove are situated and the land where 
Urd's fountain is found are within the domain Hel. 

In regard to the zones or climates, in which the roots 
are located, they have been conceived as having a south- 
ern and northern. We have already shown that the root 
over Hvergelmer is the northern one. That the root over 
Urd's fountain has been conceived as the southern one 


is manifest from the following circumstances. Eilif Gud- 
runson, who was converted to Christianity the same 
skald who wrote the purely heathen Thorsdrapa says 
in one of his poems, written after his conversion, that 
Christ sits sunnr at Urdarbrunni, in the south near Urd's 
fountain, an expression which he could not have used un- 
less his hearers had retained from the faith of their child- 
hood the idea that Urd's fountain was situated south of 
the other fountains. Forspjallsljod puts upon Urd's foun- 
tain the task of protecting the world-tree against the de- 
vastating cold during the terrible winter which the poem 
describes. Othhrarir skyldi Urthar geyma m&ttk at veria 
mestum thorra. "Urd's Odreirer (mead-fountain) 
proved not to retain strength enough to protect against 
the terrible cold." This idea shows that the sap which 
Ygdrasil's southern root drew from Urd's fountain was 
thought to be warmer than the saps of the other wells. 
As, accordingly, the root over Urd's well was the south- 
ern, and that over Hvergelmer and the frost-giants the 
northern, it follows that Mimer's well was conceived as 
situated between those two. The memory of this fact 
Gylfaginning has in its fashion preserved, where in chap- 
ter 15 it says that Mimer's fountain is situated where 
Ginungagap formerly was that is, between the northern 
Nifelheim and the southern warmer region (Gylfagin- 
ning's "Muspelheim"). 

Grimnersmal (str. 31) says: 

Thrir raetr standa Three roots stand 

a thria vega on three ways 

undan asci Yggdrasils: below Ygdrasil's ash: 



Hel byr und einni, Hel dwells under one, 

annari hrimthursar, under another frost-giants, 

thridio mennzkir menn. under a third human-"men." 

The root under which the frost-giants dwell we already 
know as the root over Hvergelmer and the Nifelhel in- 
habited by frost-giants. 

The root under which human beings, living persons, 
mennskir menn, dwell we also know as the one over Mi- 
mer's well and Mimer's grove, where the human beings 
Lif and Leifthraser and their offspring have their abode, 
where jord lifanda manna is situated. 

There remains one root : the one under which the god- 
dess of fate, Urd, has her dwelling. Of this Grimners- 
mal says that she who dwells there is named Hel. 

Hence it follows of necessity that the goddess of fate, 
Urd, is identical with the personal Hel, the queen of the 
realm of death, particularly of its regions of bliss. We 
have seen that Hel in its local sense has the general signifi- 
cation, the realm of death, and the special but most fre- 
quent signification, the elysium of the kingdom of death. 
As a person, the meaning of the word Hel must be analo- 
gous to its signification as a place. It is the same idea 
having a personal as well as a local form. 

The conclusion that Urd is Hel is inevitable, unless we 
assume that Urd, though queen of her fountain, is not 
the regent of the land where her fountain is situated. 
One might then assume Hel to be one of Urd's sisters, 
but these have no prominence as compared with herself. 
One of them, Skuld, who is the more known of the two, 
is at the same time one of Urd's maid-servants, a valkyrie, 



who on the battlefield does her errands, a feminine psycho- 
messenger who shows the fallen the way to Hel, the realm 
of her sisters, where they are to report themselves ere 
they get to their destination. Of Verdandi the records 
tell us nothing but the name, which seems to preclude the 
idea that she should be the personal Hel. 

This result, that Urd is identical with Hel; that she 
who dispenses life also dispenses death ; that she who with 
her serving sisters is the ruler of the past, the present, and 
the future, also governs and gathers in her kingdom all 
generations of the past, present, and future this result 
may seem unexpected to those who, on the authority of 
Gylfaginning, have assumed that the daughter of Loke 
cast into the abyss of Nifelhel is the queen of the king- 
dom of death ; that she whose threshold is called Precipice 
(Gylfag., 34) was the one who conducted Balder over 
the threshold to the subterranean citadel glittering with 
gold; that she whose table is called Hunger and whose 
knife is called Famine was the one who ordered the clear, 
invigorating mead to be placed before him; that the sis- 
ter of those foes of the gods and of the world, the Mid- 
gard-serpent and the Fenris-wolf, was entrusted with the 
care of at least one of Ygdrasil's roots ; and that she whose 
bed is called Sickness, jointly with Urd and Mimer, has 
the task of caring for the world-tree and seeing that it is 
kept green and gets the liquids from their fountains. 

Colossal as this absurdity is, it has been believed for 
centuries. And in dealing with an absurdity which is 
centuries old, we must consider that it is a force which 
does not yield to objections simply stated, but must be 



conquered by clear and convincing- arguments. Without 
the necessity of travelling the path by which I have 
reached the result indicated, scholars would long since 
have come to the conviction that Urd and the personal Hel 
are identical, if Gylfaginning and the text-books based 
thereon had not confounded the judgment, and that for 
the following reasons: 

The name Urdr corresponds to the Old English Vurd, 
Vyrd, Vird, to the Old Low German Wurth, and to the 
Old High German Wurt. The fact that the word is 
found in the dialects of several Teutonic branches indi- 
cates, or is thought by the linguists to indicate, that it 
belongs to the most ancient Teutonic timeSj when it prob- 
ably had the form Vorthi. 

There can be no doubt that Urd also among other Teu- 
tonic branches than the Scandinavian has had the mean- 
ing of goddess of fate. Expressions handed down from 
the heathen time and preserved in Old English docu- 
ments characterise Vyrd as tying the threads or weaving 
the web of fate (Cod. Ex., 355; Beowulf, 2420), and as 
the one who writes that which is to happen (Beowulf, 
4836). Here the plural form is also employed, Vyrde, 
the urds, the norns, which demonstrates that she in 
England, as in the North, was conceived as having sisters 
or assistants. In the Old Low German poem "Heliand/' 
Wurth's personality is equally plain. 

But at the same time as Vyrd, Wurth, was the goddess 
of fate, she was also that of death. In Beowulf (4831, 
4453) we find the parallel expressions: 



him vas Vyrd ungemete neah: Urd was exceedingly near 

to him; 
vas dead ungemete neah: death was exceedingly near. 

And in Heliand, 146, 2 ; 92, 2 : 

Thiu Wurth is at handun: Urd is near; 
Dod is at hendi: death is near. 

And there are also other expressions, as Thiu Wurth 
ndhida thus: Urd (death) then approached; Wurth ina 
benam: Urd (death) took him away (cp. J. Grimm, 
Deutsche Myth., i. 373). 

Thus Urd, the goddess of fate, was, among the Teu- 
tonic branches in Germany and England, identical with 
death, conceived as a queen. So also in the North. The 
norns made laws and chose life and orlog (fate) for the 
children of time (Voluspa). The word orlog (Nom. PI. ; 
the original meaning seems to be urlagarne, that is, the 
original laws) frequently has a decided leaning to the 
idea of death (cp. Voluspa: Bk sd Baldri orlog folgin}. 
Hakon Jarl's orlog was that Kark cut his throat (Nj., 
156). To receive the "judgment of the norns" was iden- 
tical with being doomed to die (Yng., Heimskringla, ch. 
52). Fate and death were in the idea and in usage so 
closely related, that they were blended into one person- 
ality in the mythology. The ruler of death was that one 
who could resolve death; but the one who could deter- 
mine the length of life, and so also could resolve death, 
and the kind of death, was, of course, the goddess of fate. 
They must blend into one. 

In the ancient Norse documents we also find the name 






m .. 


the 1 

^^^^wrrrry * 

.Vurth is at h 

other expre: 
(death) then 

-< i 



ly related, r 
the mytl: 
;Id resol 
the length 
!:ind of deat- 1 
st blend 

\vas that 
could d< 

<! resolve d< 


' the 


Urd used to designate death, just as in Heliand and Beo- 
wulf, and this, too, in such a manner that Urd's personal 
character is not emphasised. Ynglingatal (Heimskr., 
ch. 44) calls Ingjald's manner of death his Urdr, and to 
determine death for anyone was to draga Urdr at him. 
Far down in the Christian centuries the memory sur- 
vived that Urd was the goddess of the realm of death 
and of death. When a bright spot, which was called 
Urd's moon, appeared on the wall, it meant the breaking 
out of an epidemic (Eyrbyggia Saga, 270). Even as 
late as the year 1237 Urd is supposed to have revealed 
herself, the night before Christmas, to Snobjorn to pre- 
dict a bloody conflict, and she then sang a song in which 
she said that she went mournfully to the contest to choose 
a man for death. Saxo translates. Urdr or Hel with 
"Proserpina" (Hist., i. 43). 




As those beings for whom Urd determines birth, posi- 
tion in life, and death, are countless, so her servants, who 
perform the tasks commanded by her as queen, must also 
be innumerable. They belong to two large classes: the 
one class is active in her service in regard to life, the other 
in regard to death. 



Most intimately associated with her are her two sis- 
ters. With her they have the authority of judges. Com- 
pare Voluspa, 19, 20, and the expressions norna domr, 
norna kiridr. And they dwell with her under the world- 
tree, which stands for ever green over her gold-clad foun- 

As maid-servants under Urd there are countless 
hamingjes (fylgjes) and giptes (also called gafes, 
audnes, heilles). The hamingjes are fostered among be- 
ings of giant-race (who hardly can be others than the 
norns and Mimer). Three mighty rivers fall down into 
the world, in which they have their origin, and they come 
wise in their hearts, soaring over the waters to our upper 
world (Vafthr., 48, 49). There every child of man is to 
have a hamingje as a companion and guardian spirit. 
The testimony of the Icelandic sagas of the middle ages in 
this regard are confirmed by phrases and forms of speech 
which have their root in heathendom. The hamingjes 
belong to that large circle of feminine beings which are 
called discs, and they seem to have been especially so 
styled. What Urd is on a grand scale as the guardian 
of the mighty Ygdrasil, this the hamingje is on a smaller 
scale when she protects the separate fruit produced on 
the world-tree and placed in her care. She does not ap- 
pear to her favourite excepting perhaps in dreams or 
shortly before his death (the latter according to Helgakv. 
Hjorv. the prose; Njal, 62; Hallf, ch. 11; proofs from 
purely heathen records are wanting). In strophes which 
occur in Gisle Surson's saga, and which are attributed 
(though on doubtful grounds) to this heathen skald, the 



hero of the saga, but the origin of which (from a time 
when the details of the myth were still remembered) is 
fully confirmed by a careful criticism, it is mentioned how 
he stood between good and evil inspirations, and how the 
draumkona (dream- woman) of the good inspirations said 
to him in sleep : "Be not the first cause of a murder ! ex- 
cite not peaceful men against yourself ! promise me this, 
thou charitable man ! Aid the blind, scorn not the lame, 
and insult not a Tyr robbed of his hand!" These are 
noble counsels, and that the naming jes were noble beings 
was a belief preserved through the Christian centuries 
in Iceland, where, according to Vigfusson, the word 
hamingja is still used in the sense of Providence. They 
did not usually leave their favourite before death. But 
there are certain phrases preserved in the spoken language 
which show that they could leave him before death. He 
who was abandoned by his hamingje and gipte was a lost 
man. If the favourite became a hideous and bad man, then 
his hamingja and gipta might even turn her benevolence 
into wrath, and cause his well-deserved ruin. Uvar 'ro 
disir, angry at you are the discs ! cries Odin to the royal 
nithing Geirrod, and immediately thereupon the latter 
stumbles and falls pierced by his own sword. That the 
invisible hamingje could cause one to stumble and fall is 
shown in Pornm., iii. 

The giptes seem to have carried out such of Urd's re- 
solves, on account of which the favourite received an un- 
expected, as it were accidental, good fortune. 

Not only for separate individuals, but also for families 
and clans, there were guardian spirits (kynfylgjur, attar- 



Another division of this class of maid-servants under 
Urd are those who attend the entrance of the child into 
the world, and who have to weave the threads of the new- 
born babe into the web of the families and events. Like 
Urd and her sisters, they too are called norns. If it is a 
child who is to be a great and famous man, Urd herself 
and her sisters may be present for the above purpose (see 
No. 30 in regard to Half dan's birth). 

A few strophes incorporated in Fafnersmal from a 
heathen didactic poem, now lost (Fafn., 12-15), speak of 
norns whose task it is to determine and assist the arrival 
of the child into this world. Nornir, er naudgaunglar 'ro 
oc kjosa wuzdr frd maugum. The expression kjosa mcedr 
frd maugum, "to choose mothers from descendants," 
seems obscure, and can under all circumstances not mean 
simply "to deliver mothers of children." The word 
kjosa is never used in any other sense than to choose, 
elect, select. Here it must then mean to choose, elect 
as mothers; and the expression "from descendants" is 
incomprehensible, if we do not on the one hand conceive 
a crowd of eventual descendants, who at the threshold 
of life are waiting for mothers in order to become born 
into this world, and on the other hand women who are to 
be mothers, but in reference to whom it has not yet been 
determined which descendant each one is to call hers 
among the great waiting crowd, until those norns which 
we are here discussing resolve on that point, and from 
the indefinite crowd of waiting megir choose mothers for 
those children which are especially destined for them. 

These norns are, according to Fafn., 13, of different 



birth. Some are Asa-kinswomen, others of elf-race, and 
again others are daughters of Dvalin. In regard to the 
last-named it should be remembered that Dvalin, their 
father, through artists of his circle } decorated the citadel, 
within which a future generation of men await the regen- 
eration of the world, and that the mythology has asso- 
ciated him intimately with the elf of the morning dawn, 
Delling, who guards the citadel of the race of regenera- 
tion against all that is evil and all that ought not to enter 
(see No. 53). There are reasons (see No. 95) for as- 
suming that these discs of birth were Honer's maid-ser- 
vants at the same time as they were Urd's, just as the 
valkyries are Urd's and Odin's maid-servants at the same 
time (see below). 

To the other class of Urd's maid-servants belong those 
lower-world beings which execute her resolves of death, 
and conduct the souls of the dead to the lower world. 

Foremost among the psycho-messengers (psycho- 
pomps), the attendants of the dead, we note that group 
of shield-maids called valkyries. As Odin and Freyja 
got the right of choosing on the battlefield, the valkyries 
have received Asgard as their abode. There they bring 
the mead-horns to the Asas and einherjes, when they do 
not ride on Valfather's errands (Voluspa, 31 ; Grimners- 
mal, 36; Eiriksm., 1; Ulf Ugges. Skaldsk., 238). But 
the third of the norns, Skuld, is the chief one in this 
group (Voluspa, 31), and, as shall be shown below, they 
for ever remain in the most intimate association with Urd 
and the lower world. 





The modern conception of the removal of those fallen 
by the sword to Asgard is that the valkyries carried them 
immediately through blue space to the halls above. The 
heathens did not conceive the matter in this manner. 

It is true that the mythological horses might carry 
their riders through the air without pressing a firm foun- 
dation with their hoofs. But such a mode of travel was 
not the rule, even among the gods, and, when it did hap- 
pen, it attracted attention even among them. Compare 
Gylfaginning, i. 118, which quotes strophes from a 
heathen source. The bridge Bifrost would not have been 
built or established for the daily connection between As- 
gard and Urd's subterranean realm if it had been unnec- 
essary in the mythological world of fancy. Mane's way 
in space would not have been regarded as a road in the 
concrete sense, that quakes and rattles when Thor's thun- 
der-chariot passes over it (Haustl, Skaldsk., ch. 16), 
had it not been thought that Mane was safer on a firm 
road than without one of that sort. To every child that 
grew up in the homes of our heathen fathers the question 
must have lain near at hand, what such roads and bridges 
were for, if the gods had no advantage from them. The 
mythology had to be prepared for such questions, and in 
this, as in others cases, it had answers wherewith to sat- 
isfy that claim on causality and consistency which even 



the most naive view of the world presents. The answer 
was : If the Bifrost bridge breaks under its riders, as is 
to happen in course of time, then their horses would have 
to swim in the sea of air (Bilraust brotnar, er their a bru 
fara, oc svima i modo marir Fafn., 15., compare a 
strophe of Kormak, Kormak's Saga, p. 259, where the 
atmosphere is called the fjord of the gods, Dia fjordr). 
A horse does not swim as fast and easily as it runs. The 
different possibilities of travel are associated with different 
kinds of exertion and swiftness. The one method is 
more adequate to the purpose than the other. The solid 
connections which were used by the gods and which the 
mythology built in space are, accordingly, objects of ad- 
vantage and convenience. The valkyries, riding at the 
head of their chosen heroes, as well as the gods, have 
found solid roads advantageous, and the course they took 
with their favourites was not the one presented in our 
mythological text-books. Grimnersmal (str. 21; see No. 
93) informs us that the breadth of the atmospheric sea 
is too great and its currents too strong for those riding on 
their horses from the battlefield to wade across. 

In the 45th chapter of Egil Skallagrimson's saga we 
read how Egil saved himself from men, whom King 
Erik Blood-axe sent in pursuit of him to Saud Isle. 
While they were searching for him there, he had stolen to 
the vicinity of the place where the boat lay in which those 
in pursuit had rowed across. Three warriors guarded 
the boat. Egil succeeded in surprising them, and in giv- 
ing one of them his death-wound ere the latter was able 
to defend himself. The second fell in a duel on the 



strand. The third, who sprang into the boat to make it 
loose, fell there after an exchange of blows. The saga 
has preserved a strophe in which Egil mentions this ex- 
ploit to his brother Thorolf and his friend Arinbjorn, 
whom he met after his flight from Saud Isle. There he 

at thrytnreynis thjonar 
thrir nokkurrir Hlakkar, 
til hasalar Heljar 
helgengnir, for dvelja. 

"Three of those who serve the tester of the valkyrie- 
din (the warlike Erik Blood-axe) will late return; they 
have gone to the lower world, to Hel's high hall." 

The fallen ones were king's men and warriors. They 
were slain by weapons and fell at their posts of duty, one 
from a sudden, unexpected wound, the others in open con- 
flict. According to the conception of the mythological 
text-books, these sword-slain men should have beeen con- 
ducted by valkyries through the air to Valhal. But the 
skald Egil, who as a heathen born about the year 904, 
and who as a contemporary of the sons of Harald Fair- 
hair must have known the mythological views of his fel- 
low-heathen believers better than the people of our time, 
assures us positively that these men from King Erik's 
body-guard, instead of going immediately to Valhal, went 
to the lower world and to Hel's high hall there. He cer- 
tainly would not have said anything of the sort, if those 
for whom he composed the strophe had not regarded 
this idea as both possible and correct. 

The question now is : Does this Egil's statement stand 



alone and is it in conflict with those other statements 
touching the same point which the ancient heathen records 
have preserved for us? The answer is, that in these 
ancient records there is not found a single passage in con- 
flict with Egil's idea, but that they all, on the contrary, 
fully agree with his words, and that this harmony con- 
tinues in the reports of the first Christian centuries in 
regard to this subject. 

All the dead and also those fallen by the sword come 
first to Hel. Thence the sword-slain come to Asgard, if 
they have deserved this destiny. 

In Gisle Surson's saga (ch. 24) is mentioned the cus- 
tom of binding Hel-shoes on the feet of the dead. War- 
riors in regard to whom there was no doubt that Valhal 
was their final destiny received Hel-shoes like all others, 
that er tidska at binda nwnnum helsko, sem menn, skulo 
a ganga till Valhallar. It would be impossible to ex- 
plain this custom if it had not been believed that those 
who were chosen for the joys of Valhal were obliged, 
like all others, to travel a Helvegum. Wherever this 
custom prevailed, Egil's view in regard to the fate which 
immediately awaited sword-fallen men was general. 

When Hermod betook himself to the lower world to 
find Balder he came, as we know, to the golden bridge 
across the river Gjoll. Urd's maid-servant, who watches 
the bridge, mentioned to him that the day before five 
fylki of dead men had rode across the same bridge. Con- 
sequently all these dead are on horseback and they do not 
come separately or a few at a time, but in large troops 
called fylki, an expression which, in the Icelandic litera- 



ture, denotes larger or smaller divisions of an army 
legions, cohorts, maniples or companies in battle array; 
and with fylki the verb fylkja, to form an army or a di- 
vision of an army in line of battle, is most intimately 
connected. This indicates with sufficient clearness that 
the dead here in question are men who have fallen on the 
field of battle and are on their way to Hel, each one 
riding, in company with his fallen brothers in arms, with 
those who belonged to his own fylki. The account pre- 
supposes that men fallen by the sword, whose final des- 
tination is Asgard, first have to ride down to the lower 
world. Else we would not find these fylkes on a Hel- 
way galloping across a subterranean bridge, into the same 
realm as had received Balder and Nanna after death. 

It has already been pointed out that Bifrost is the only 
connecting link between Asgard and the lower regions 
of the universe. The air was regarded as an ether sea 
which the bridge spanned, and although the horses of 
mythology were able to swim in this sea, the solid con- 
nection was of the greatest importance. The gods used 
the bridge every day (Grimnismal, Gylfaginning) . 
Frost giants and mountain-giants are anxious to get pos- 
session of it, for it is the key to Asgard. It therefore has 
its special watchman in the keen-eyed and vigilant Heim- 
dal. When in Ragnarok the gods ride to the last con- 
flict they pass over Bifrost (Fafnersmal). The bridge 
does not lead to Midgard. Its lower ends were not con- 
ceived as situated among mortal men. It stood outside 
and below the edge of the earth's crust both in the north 
and in the south. In the south it descended to Urd's 



fountain and to the thingstead of the gods in the lower 
world (see the accompanying drawing, intended to make 
these facts intelligible). From this mythological topo- 
graphical arrangement it follows of necessity that the 
valkyries at the head of the chosen slain must take their 
course through the lower world, by the way of Urd's 
fountain and the thingstead of the gods, if they are to 
ride on Bifrost bridge to Asgard, and not be obliged to 
betake themselves thither on swimming horses. 

n ft:K!> 
t#ei f Trtt 

There are still two poems extant from the heathen 
time, which describe the reception of sword-fallen kings 
in Valhal. The one describes the reception of Erik 
Blood-axe, the other that of Hakon the Good. 

When King Erik, with five other kings and their at- 
tendants of fallen warriors, come riding up thither, the 
gods hear on their approach a mighty din, as if the foun- 
dations of Asgard trembled. All the benches of Valhal 
quake and tremble. What single probability can we now 
conceive as to what the skald presupposed ? Did he sup- 
pose that the chosen heroes came on horses that swim in 



the air, and that the movements of the horses in this 
element produced a noise that made Valhal tremble? 
Or that it is Bifrost which thunders under the hoofs of 
hundreds of horses, and quakes beneath their weight? 
There is scarcely need of an answer to this alternative. 
Meanwhile the skald himself gives the answer. For the 
skald makes Brage say that from the din and quaking 
it might be presumed that it was Balder who was return- 
ing to the halls of the gods. Balder dwells in the lower 
world; the connection between Asgard and the lower 
world is Bifrost : this connection is of such a nature that 
it quakes and trembles beneath the weight of horses and 
riders, and it is predicted in regard to Bifrost that in 
Ragnarok it shall break under the weight of the host of 
riders. Thus Brage's words show that it is Bifrost from 
which the noise is heard when Erik and his men ride up 
to Valhal. But to get to the southern end of Bifrost, 
Erik and his riders must have journeyed in Hel, across 
Gjoll, and past the thingstead of the gods near Urd's 
well. Thus it is by this road that the psychopomps of 
the heroes conduct their favourites to their final destina- 

In his grand poem "Hakonarmal," Eyvind Skaldaspil- 
ler makes Odin send the valkyries Gandul and Skagul "to 
choose among the kings of Yngve's race some who are 
to come to Odin and abide in Valhal." It is not said by 
which road the two valkyries betake themselves to Mid- 
gard, but when they have arrived there they find that a 
battle is imminent between the Yngve descendants, Hakon 
the Good, and the sons of Erik. Hakon is just putting 



on his coat-of-mail, and immediately thereupon begins 
the brilliantly-described battle. The sons of Erik are put 
to flight, but the victor Hakon is wounded by an arrow, 
and after the end of the battle he sits on the battlefield, 
surrounded by his heroes, "with shields cut by swords 
and with byrnies pierced by arrows." Gandul and Ska- 
gul, "maids on horseback, with wisdom in their counte- 
nances, with helmets on their heads, and with shields be- 
fore them," are near the king. The latter hears that 
Gandul, "leaning on her spear," says to Skagul that the 
wound is to cause the king's death, and now a conversa- 
tion begins between Hakon and Skagul, who confirms 
what Gandul has said, and does so with the following 
words : 

Rida vit nu skulum, 
kvad hin rika Skagul, 
grsena heima goda 
Odni at segja, 
at un mun allvaldr koma 
a hann sjalfan at sja. 

"We two (Gandul and Skagul) shall now, quoth the 
mighty Skagul, ride o'er green realms (or worlds) of 
the gods in order to say to Odin that now a great king is 
coming to see him." 

Here we get definite information in regard to which 
way the valkyries journey between Asgard and Midgard. 
The fields through which the road goes, and which are 
beaten by the hoofs of their horses, are green realms of the 
gods (worlds, heimar}. 

With these green realms Eyvind has not meant the 



blue ether. He distinguishes between blue and green. 
The sea he calls blue (bldmar see Heimskringla). 
.What he expressly states, and to which we must confine 
ourselves, is that, according to his cosmological concep- 
tion and that of his heathen fellow-believers, there were 
realms clothed in green and inhabited by divinities on the 
route the valkyries had to take when they from a battle- 
field in Midgard betook themselves back to Valhal and 
Asgard. But as valkyries and the elect ride on Bifrost 
up to Valhal, Bifrost, which goes down to Urd's well, 
must be the connecting link between the realms decked 
with green and Asgard. The gr&ncur heimar through 
which the valkyries have to pass are therefore the realms 
of the lower world. 

Among the realms or "worlds" which constituted the 
mythological universe, the realms of bliss in the lower 
world were those which might particularly be character- 
ised as the green. Their groves and blooming meadows 
and fields of waving grain were never touched by decay 
or frost, and as such they were cherished by the popular 
fancy for centuries after the introduction of Christianity. 
The Low German language has also rescued the memory 
thereof in the expression groni godes wang (Hel., 94, 
24) . That the green realms of the lower world are called 
realms of the gods is also proper, for they have contained 
and do contain many beings of a higher or lower divine 
rank. There dwells the divine mother Nat, worshipped 
by the Teutons ; there Thor's mother and her brother and 
sister Njord and Fulla are fostered ; there Balder. Nanna, 
and Hodr are to dwell until Ragnarok; there Delling, 



Billing, Rind, Dag, Mane, and Sol, and all the clan of 
artists gathered around Mimer, they who "smithy" liv- 
ing beings, vegetation, and ornaments, have their halls; 
there was born Odin's son Vale. Of the mythological 
divinities, only a small number were fostered in Asgard. 
When Gandul and Skagul at the head of sword-fallen 
men ride "o'er the green worlds of the gods," this agrees 
with the statement in the myth about Hermod's journey to 
Hel, that "fylkes" of dead riders gallop over the sub- 
terranean gold-bridge, on the other side of which glori- 
ous regions are situated, and with the statement in Veg- 
tamskvida that Odin, when he had left Nifelhel behind 
him, came to a foldvegr, a way over green plains, by 
which he reaches the hall that awaits Balder. 

In the heroic songs of the Elder Edda, and in other 
poems from the centuries immediately succeeding the in- 
troduction of Christianity, the memory survives that the 
heroes journey to the lower world. Sigurd Fafners- 
bane comes to Hel. Of one of Atle's brothers who fell 
by Gudrun's sword it is said, i Helju hmi thana hafdi 
(Atlam., 51). In the same poem, strophe 54, one of 
the Niflungs says of a sword-fallen foe that they had 
him lamdan til Heljar. 

The mythic tradition is supported by linguistic usage, 
which, in such phrases as berja i Hel, drepa i Hel, drepa 
til Heljar, fara til Heljar, indicated that those fallen by 
the sword also had to descend to the realm of death. 

The memory of valkyries, subordinate to the goddess 
of fate and death, and belonging with her to the class of 
norns, continued to flourish in Christian times both among 


Anglo-Saxons and Scandinavians. Among the former 
valcyrge, valcyrre (valkyrie) could be used to express 
the Latin parca, and in Beowulf occur phrases in which 
Hild and Gud (the valkyries Hildr and Gunnr} perform 
the tasks of Vyrd. In Atlamal (28), the valkyries are 
changed into "dead women," inhabitants of the lower 
world, who came to choose the hero and invite him to 
their halls. The basis of the transformation is the recol- 
lection that the valkyries were not only in Odin's service, 
but also in that of the lower world goddess Urd (com- 
pare Atlamal, 16, where they are called norns), and that 
they as psychopomps conducted the chosen Heroes to Hel 
on their way to Asgard. 



If death on the battle-field, or as the result of wounds 
received on the field of battle, had been regarded as an 
inevitable condition for the admittance of the dead into 
Asgard, and for the honour of sitting at Odin's table, 
then the choosing would under all circumstances have 
been regarded as a favour from Odin. But this was by 
no means the case, nor could it be so when regarded from 
a psychological point of view (see above, No. 61). The 
poems mentioned above, "Eiriksmal" and "Hakonarmal," 
give us examples of choosing from a standpoint quite 
different from that of favour. When one of the ein- 



herjes, Sigmund, learns from Odin that Erik Blood-axe 
has fallen and is expected in Valhal, he asks why Odin 
robbed Erik of victory and life, although he, Erik, pos- 
sessed Odin's friendship. From Odin's answer to the 
question we learn that the skald did not wish to make 
Sigmund express any surprise that a king, whom Odin 
loves above other kings and heroes, has died in a lost 
instead of a won battle. What Sigmund emphasises is, 
that Odin did not rather take unto himself a less loved 
king than the so highly appreciated Erik, and permit the 
latter to conquer and live. Odin's answer is that he is 
hourly expecting Ragnarok, and that he therefore made 
haste to secure as soon as possible so valiant a hero as 
Erik among his einherjes. But Odin does not say that 
he feared that he might have to relinquish the hero for 
ever, in case the latter, not being chosen on this battle- 
field, should be snatched away by some other death than 
that by the sword. 

Hakonarmal gives us an example of a king who is 
chosen in a battle in which he is the victor. As con- 
queror the wounded Hakon remained on the battlefield; 
still he looks upon the choosing as a disfavour. When 
he had learned from Gandul's words to Skagul that the 
number of the einherjes is to be increased with him, he 
blames the valkyries for dispensing to him this fate, and 
says he had deserved a better lot from the gods (yarun 
tho verdir gagns frd godum). When he enters Valhal 
he has a keener reproach on his lips to the welcoming 
Odin : illudigr mjok thykkir oss Odinn vera, sjam ver 
hans of hugi. 



Doubtless it was for our ancestors a glorious prospect 
to be permitted to come to Odin after death, and a person 
who saw inevitable death before his eyes might comfort 
himself with the thought of soon seeing "the benches 
of Balder's father decked for the feast" (Ragnar's death- 
song). But it is no less certain from all the evidences 
we have from the heathen time, that honourable life was 
preferred to honourable death, although between the 
wars there was a chance of death from sickness. Under 
these circumstances, the mythical eschatology could not 
have made death from disease an insurmountable obstacle 
for warriors and heroes on their way to Valhal. In the 
ancient records there is not the faintest allusion to such an 
idea. It is too absurd to have existed. It would have 
robbed Valhal of many of Midgard's most brilliant he- 
roes, and it would have demanded from faithful be- 
lievers that they should prefer death even with defeat to 
victory and life, since the latter lot was coupled with the 
possibility of death from disease. With such a view no 
army goes to battle, and no warlike race endowed with 
normal instincts has ever entertained it and given it ex- 
pression in their doctrine in regard to future life. 

The absurdity of the theory is so manifest that the 
mythologists who have entertained it have found it nec- 
essary to find some way of making it less inadmissible 
than it really is. They have suggested that Odin did not 
necessarily fail to get those heroes whom sickness and 
age threatened with a straw-death, nor did they need to 
relinquish the joys of Valhal, for there remained to them 
an expedient to which they under such circumstances re- 



sorted: they risted (marked, scratched) themselves with 
the spear-point (marka sik geirs-oddi). 

If there was such a custom, we may conceive it as 
springing from a sacredness attending a voluntary death 
as a sacrifice a sacredness which in all ages has been 
more or less alluring to religious minds. But all the 
descriptions we have from Latin records in regard to 
Teutonic customs, all our own ancient records from 
heathen times, all Northern and German heroic songs, 
are unanimously and stubbornly silent about the existence 
of the supposed custom of "risting with the spear-point," 
although, if it ever existed, it would have been just such 
a thing as would on the one hand be noticed by strangers, 
and on the other hand be remembered, at least for a time, 
by the generations converted to Christianity. But the 
well-informed persons interviewed by Tacitus, they who 
presented so many characteristic traits of the Teutons, 
knew nothing of such a practice ; otherwise they certainly 
would have mentioned it as something very remarkable 
and peculiar to the Teutons. None of the later classical 
Latin or middle age Latin records which have made con- 
tributions to our knowledge of the Teutons have a single 
word to say about it; nor the heroic poems. The Scan- 
dinavian records, and the more or less historical sagas, 
tell of many heathen kings, chiefs, and warriors who 
have died on a bed of straw, but not of a single one who 
"risted himself with the spear-point." The fable about 
this "risting with the spear-point" .has its origin in Yng- 
lingasaga, ch. 10, where Odin, changed to a king in 
Svithiod, is said, when death was approaching, to have 



let marka sik geirs-oddi. Out of this statement has been 
constructed a custom among kings and heroes of antic- 
ipating a straw-death by "risting with the spear-point," 
and this for the purpose of getting admittance to Valhal. 
Vigfusson (Dictionary) has already pointed out the fact 
that the author of Ynglingasaga had no other authority 
for his statement than the passage in Havamal, where 
Odin relates that he wounded with a spear, hungering 
and thirsting, voluntarily inflicted on himself pain, which 
moved Bestla's brother to give him runes and a drink 
from the fountain of wisdom. The fable about the spear- 
point risting, and its purpose, is therefore quite unlike 
the source from which, through ignorance and random 
writing, it sprang. 



The psychopomps of those fallen by the sword are, as 
we have seen, stately discs, sitting high in the saddle, 
with helmet, shield, and spear. To those not destined 
to fall by the sword Urd sends other maid-servants, who, 
like the former, may come on horseback, and who, as it 
appears, are of very different appearance, varying in 
accordance with the manner of death of those persons 
whose departure they attend. She who comes to those 
who sink beneath the weight of years has been conceived 
as a very benevolent dis, to judge from the solitary pass- 



age where she is characterised, that is in Ynglingatal and 
in Ynglingasaga, ch. 49, where it is said of the aged and 
just king Halfdan Whiteleg, that he was taken hence by 
the woman, who is helpful to those bowed and stooping 
(hallvarps hlifinauma}. The burden which Elli (age), 
Utgard-Loke's foster-mother (Gylfag., 47), puts on 
men, and which gradually gets too heavy for them to 
bear, is removed by this kind-hearted dis. 

Other psychopomps are of a terrible kind. The most 
of them belong to the spirits of disease dwelling in Nifel- 
hel (see No. 60). King Vanlande is tortured to death 
by a being whose epithet, vitta vattr and trollkund, 
shows that she belongs to the same group as Heidr, the 
prototype of witches, and who is contrasted with the 
valkyrie Hild by the appellation Ijona lids bdga Grim- 
hildr (Yngl., ch. 16). The same vitta v&ttr came to 
King Adils when his horse fell and he himself struck his 
head against a stone (Yngl., ch. 33). Two kings, who 
die on a bed of straw, are mentioned in Ynglingasaga's 
Thjodolf-strophes (ch. 20 and 52) as visited by a being 
called in the one instance Loke's kinswoman (Loka 
mar}, and in the other Hvedrung's kinswoman (Hved- 
rungs mar}. That this Loke's kinswoman has no au- 
thority to determine life and death, but only carries out 
the dispensations of the norns, is definitely stated in the 
Thjodolf-strophe (ch. 52), and also that her activity, 
as one who brings the invitation to the realm of death, 
does not imply that the person invited is to be counted 
among the damned, although she herself, the kinswoman 
of Loke, the daughter of Loke, surely does not belong to 

the regions of bliss. 



Ok til things 
thridja jofri 
hvedrungs maer 
or heimi baud, 
tha er Halfdan, 
sa er a Holti bjo 
norna doms 
um notit hafdi. 

As all the dead, whether they are destined for Valhal 
or for Hel (in the sense of the subterranean realms of 
bliss), or for Nifelhel, must first report themselves in 
Hel, their psychopomps, whether they dwell in Valhal, 
Hel, or Nifelhel, must do the same. This arrangement 
is necessary also from the point of view that the un- 
happy who "die from Hel into Nifelhel" (Grimnersmal) 
must have attendants who conduct them from the realms 
of bliss to the Na-gates, and thence to the realms of tor- 
ture. Those dead from disease, who have the subter- 
ranean kinswoman of Loke as a guide, may be destined 
for the realms of bliss then she delivers them there; or 
be destined for Nifelhel then they die under her care 
and are brought by her through the Na-gates to the 
worlds of torture in Nifelhel. 

Far down in Christian times the participle leikinn was 
used in a manner which points to something mythical as 
the original reason for its application. In Biskupas. 
(i. 464) it is said of a man that he was leikinn by some 
magic being (flagd). Of another person who sought 
solitude and talked with himself, it is said in Eyrbyggja 
(270) that he was believed to be leikinn. Ynglingatal 
gives us the mythical explanation of this word. 



In its strophe about King Dyggve, who died from 
disease, this poem says (Yngling., ch. 20) that, as the 
lower world dis had chosen him, Loke's kinswoman came 
and made him leikinn (Allvald Yngva thjodar Loka mar 
um leikinn hefir). The person who became leikinn is 
accordingly visited by Loke's kinswoman, or, if others 
have had the same task to perform, by some being who 
resembled her, and who brought psychical or physical 

In our mythical records there is mention made of a 
giantess whose very name, Leikin, Leikn, is immediately 
connected with that activity which Loke's kinswoman 
and she too is a giantess exercises when she makes a 
oerson leikinn. Of this personal Leikin we get the fol- 
lowing information in our old records : 

1. She is, as stated, of giant race (Younger Edda, 
i. 552). 

2. She has once fared badly at Thor's hands. He 
broke her leg (Leggi brauzt thu Leiknar Skaldsk., ch. 
4, after a song by Vetrlidi). 

3. She is kveldrida. The original and mythological 
meaning of kveldrida is a horsewoman of torture or death 
(from kvelja, to torture, to kill). The meaning, a horse- 
woman of the night, is a misunderstanding. Compare 
Vigfusson's Diet., sub voce "Kveld." 

4. The horse which this woman of torture and death 
rides is black, untamed, difficult to manage (styggr), and 
ugly-grown (Ijotvaxinn). It drinks human blood, and 
is accompanied by other horses belonging to Leikin, black 
and bloodthirsty like it. (All this is stated by Hallfred 



Vandradaskald. ) * Perhaps these loose horses are in- 
tended for those persons whom the horsewomen of tor- 
ture causes to die from disease, and whom she is to con- 
duct to the lower world. 

Popular traditions have preserved for our times the 
remembrance of the "ugly-grown" horse, that is, of a 
three-legged horse, which on its appearance brings sick- 
ness, epidemics, and plagues. The Danish popular be- 
lief (Thiele i. 137, 138) knows this monster and the 
word Hel-horse has been preserved in the vocabulary of 
the Danish language. The diseases brought by the Hel- 
horse are extremely dangerous, but not always fatal. 
When they are not fatal the convalescent is regarded as 
having ransomed his life with that tribute of loss of 
strength and of torture which the disease caused him, and 
in a symbolic sense he has then "given death a bushel of 
oats" (that is, to its horse). According to popular belief 
in Slesvik (Arnkiel, i. 55; cp. J. Grimm, Deutsche Myth, 
804), Hel rides in the time of a plague on a three-legged 
horse and kills people. Thus the ugly-grown horse is 
not forgotten in traditions from the heathen time. 

Voluspa inform us that in the primal age of man, the 
sorceress Heid went from house to house and was a wel- 
come guest with evil women, since she seid Leikin (sida 
means to practise sorcery). Now, as Leikin is the "horse- 
woman of torture and death," and rides the Hel-horse, 
then the expression sida Leikin can mean nothing else 

*Tidhoggvlt let tiggi Vinhrodigr gaf vida 

Tryggvar sonr fyrir styggvan visi margra Frisa 

Leiknar hest d leiti blokku ftrflnf at derkka 

Ijotvaxinn hrce Saxa. blod kvellridu stodi. 


than by sorcery to send Leikin, the messenger of disease 
and death, to those persons who are the victims of the 
evil wishes of "evil women ;" or, more abstractly, to bring 
by sorcery dangerous diseases to men.* 

From all this follows that Leikin is either a side-figure 
to the daughter of Loke, and like her in all respects, or 
she and the Loke-daughter are one and the same per- 
son. To determine the question whether they are iden- 
tical, we must observe (1) the definitely representative 
manner in which Voluspa, by the use of the name Leikin, 
makes the possessor of this name a mythic person, who 
visits men with diseases and death; (2) the manner in 
which Ynglingatal characterises the activity of Loke's 
daughter with a person doomed to die from disease; she 
makes him leikinn, an expression which, without doubt, is 
in its sense connected with the feminine name Leikn, and 
which was preserved in the vernacular far down in Chris- 
tian times, and there designated a supernatural visitation 
bringing the symptoms of mental or physical illness; (3) 

*V61uspa 23, Cod. Reg., says of Heid : 

seid hon Tcuni, 
seid hon Leikin. 

The letter u is in this manuscript used for both u and y (compare 
Bugge, Ssemund Edd., Preface x., xi.), and hence kuni may be read both 
kuni and kyni. The latter reading makes logical sense. Kyni is dative of 
kyn, a neuter noun, meaning something sorcerous, supernatural, a mon- 
ster. Kynjamein and kynjasott mean diseases brought on by sorcery. Seid 
in both the above lines is past tense of the verb sida, and not in either one 
of them the noun seidr. 

There was a sacred sorcery and an unholy one, according to the pur- 
pose for which it was practised, and according to the attending ceremonies. 
The object of the holy sorcery was to bring about something good either 
for the sorcerer or for others, or to find out the will of the gods and future 
things. The sorcery practised by Heidr is the unholy one, hated by the 
gods, and again and again forbidden in the laws, and this kind of sorcery 
is designated in Voluspa by the term sida kyni. Of a thing practised with 
improper means it is said that it is not kynja-lauss, kyn-free. 

The reading in Cod. Hauk., seid hon hvars hon kunni, seid hon 
hugleikin, evidently has some "emendator" to thank for its existence who 
did not understand the passage and wished to substitute something easily 
understood for the obscure lines he thought he had found. 



the Christian popular tradition in which the deformed 
and disease-bringing horse, which Leikin rides in the 
myth, is represented as the steed of "death" or "Hel;" 
(4) that change of meaning by which the name Hel, 
which in the mythical poems of the Elder Edda desig- 
nates the whole heathen realm of death, and especially 
its regions of bliss, or their queen, got to mean the abode 
of torture and misery and its ruler a transmutation by 
which the name Hel, as in Gylfaginning and in the Slesvik 
traditions, was transferred from Urd to Loke's daugh- 

Finally, it should be observed that it is told of Leikin, 
as of Loke's daughter, that she once fared badly at the 
hands of the gods, who did not, however, take her life. 
Loke's daughter is not slain, but is cast into Nifelhel 
(Gylfaginning, ch. 34). From that time she is gnupleit 
that is to say, she has a stooping form, as if her bones 
had been broken and were unable to keep her in an up- 
right position. Leikin is not slain, but gets her legs 

All that we learn of Leikin thus points to the Loke- 
maid, the Hel, not of the myth, but of Christian tradi- 



It has already been demonstrated that all the dead must 
go to Hel not only they whose destination is the realm 
of bliss, but also those who are to dwell in Asgard or in 



the regions of torture in Nifelheim. Thus the dead 
tread at the outset the same road. One and the same 
route is prescribed to them all, and the same Helgate 
daily opens for hosts of souls destined for different lots. 
Women and children, men and the aged, they who have 
practised the arts of peace and they who have stained 
the weapons with blood, those who have lived in accord- 
ance with the sacred commandments of the norns and 
gods and they who have broken them all have to jour- 
ney the same way as Balder went before them, down to 
the fields of the fountains of the world. They come on 
foot and on horseback nay, even in chariots, if we may 
believe Helreid Brynhildar, a very unreliable source 
guided by various psychopomps : the beautifully equipped 
valkyries, the blue-white daughter of L,oke, the sombre 
spirits of disease, and the gentle maid-servant of old age. 
Possibly the souls of children had their special psycho- 
pomps. Traditions of mythic origin seem to suggest this ; 
but the fragments of the myths themselves preserved to 
our time give us no information on this subject. 

The Hel-gate here in question was situated below the 
eastern horizon of the earth. When Thor threatens to 
kill Loke he says (Lokas., 59) that he will send him a 
austruega. When the author of the Sol-song sees the 
sunset for the last time, he hears in the opposite direc- 
tion that is, in the east the Hel-gate grating dismally 
on its hinges (str. 39). The gate has a watchman and 
a key. The key is called glllmgr, gyllingr (Younger 
Edda, ii. 494) ; and hence a skald who celebrates his an- 
cestors in his songs, and thus recalls to those living the 



shades of those in Hades, may say that he brings to the 
light of day the tribute paid to Gilling (yppa gillings 
gj'oldum. See Eyvind's strophe, Younger Edda, i. 248. 
The paraphrase has hitherto been misunderstood, on ac- 
count of the pseudo-myth Bragarozdur about the mead.) 
From the gate the highway of the dead went below the 
earth in a westerly direction through deep and dark dales 
(Gylfag., ch. 52), and it required several days for Her- 
mod nine days and nights before they came to light re- 
gions and to the golden bridge across the river Gjoll, flow- 
ing from north to south (see No. 59). On the other 
side of the river the roads forked. One road went di- 
rectly north. This led to Balder's abode (Gylfag., ch. 
52) ; in other words, to Mimer's realm, to Mimer's grove, 
and to the sacred citadel of the asmegir, where death and 
decay cannot enter (see No. 53). This northern road 
was not, therefore, the road common to all the dead. An- 
other road went to the south. As Urd's realm is situated 
south of Mimer's (see Nos. 59, 63), this second road 
must have led to Urd's fountain and to the thingstead of 
the gods there. From the Sun-song we learn that the 
departed had to continue their journey by that road. The 
deceased skald of the Sun-song came to the norns, that 
is to say, to Urd and her sisters, after he had left this 
road behind him, and he sat for nine days and nights 
a norna stoli before he was permitted to continue his jour- 
ney (str. 51). Here, then, is the end of the road com- 
mon to all, and right here, at Urd's fountain and at the 
thingstead of the gods something must happen, on which 
account the dead are divided into different groups, some 



destined for Asgard, others for the subterranean regions 
of bliss, and a third lot for Nifelhel's regions of torture. 
We shall now see whether the mythic fragments pre- 
served to our time contain any suggestions as to what 
occurs in this connection. It must be admitted that this 
dividing must take place somewhere in the lower world, 
that it was done on the basis of the laws which in mytho- 
logical ethics distinguish between right and wrong, in- 
nocence and guilt, that which is pardonable and that 
which is unpardonable, and that the happiness and unhap- 
piness of the dead is determined by this division 



The Asas have two thingsteads : the one in Asgard, the 
other in the lower world. 

In the former a council is held and resolutions passed 
in such matters as pertain more particularly to the clan 
of the Asas and to their relation to other divine clans and 
other powers. When Balder is visited by ugly dreams, 
Val father assembles the gods to hold counsel, and all the 
Asas assemble a thingi, and all the asynjes a mall (Veg- 
tamskv., 1; Balder's Dr., 4). In assemblies here the 
gods resolved to exact an oath from all things for Bal- 
der's safety, and to send a messenger to the lower world 
to get knowledge partly about Balder, partly about fu- 
ture events. On this thingstead efforts are made of 



reconciliation between the Asas and the Vans, after Gul- 
veig had been slain in Odin's hall (Voluspa, 23, 24). 
Hither (a thing goda) comes Thor with the kettle cap- 
tured from Hymer, and intended for the feasts of the 
gods (Hymerskv., 39) ; and here the Asas hold their last 
deliberations, when Ragnarok is at hand (Voluspa, 49 : 
&sir 'ro a ihingi). No matters are mentioned as dis- 
cussed in this thingstead in which any person is inter- 
ested who does not dwell in Asgard, or which are not of 
such a nature that they have reference to how the gods 
themselves are to act under particular circumstances. 
That the thingstead where such questions are discussed 
must be situated in Asgard itself is a matter of conven- 
ience, and is suggested by the very nature of the case. 

It follows that the gods assemble iruthe Asgard thing- 
stead more for the purpose of discussing their own in- 
terests than for that of judging in the affairs of others. 
They also gather there to amuse themselves and to exer- 
cise themselves in arms (Gylfaginning, 50). 

Of the other thingstead of the Asas, of the one in the 
lower world, it is on the other hand expressly stated that 
they go thither to sit in judgment, to act as judges ; and 
there is no reason for taking this word dcema, when as 
here it means activity at a thingstead, in any other than 
its judicial and common sense. 

What matters are settled there ? We might take this to 
be the proper place for exercising Odin's privilege of 
choosing heroes to be slain by the sword, since this right is 
co-ordinate with that of the norns to determine life and 
dispense fate, whence it might seem that the domain of the 



authority of the gods and that of the norns here ap- 
proached each other sufficiently to require deliberations 
and decisions in common. Still it is not on the thing- 
stead at Urd's fountain that Odin elects persons for death 
by the sword. It is expressly stated that it is in his own 
home in Valhal that Odin exercises his right of electing 
(Grimnersmal, 8), and this right he holds so independ- 
ently and so absolutely that he does not need to ask for 
the opinion of the norns. On the other hand, the gods 
have no authority to determine the life and death of the 
other mortals. This belongs exclusively to the norns. 
The norns elect for every other death but that by weap- 
ons, and their decision in this domain is never called a 
decision by the gods, but norna domr, norna kiridr, freig- 
dar ord, Dauda ord. 

If Asas and norns did have a common voice in deciding 
certain questions which could be settled in Asgard, then 
it would not be in accordance with the high rank given 
to the Asas in mythology to have them go to the norns 
for the decision of such questions. On the contrary, 
the norns would have to come to them. Urd and her 
sisters are beings of high rank, but nevertheless they are 
of giant descent, like Mimer. The power they have is 
immense; and on a closer investigation we find how the 
mythology in more than one way has sought to maintain 
in the fancy of its believers the independence (at least ap- 
parent and well defined, within certain limits) of the 
gods an independence united with the high rank which 
they have. It may have been for this very reason that 
the youngest of the discs of fate, Skuld, was selected as 



a valkyrie, and as a maid-servant both of Odin and of 
her sister Urd. 

The questions in which the Asas are judges near Urd's 
fountain must be such as cannot be settled in Asgard, as 
the lower world is their proper forum, where both the 
parties concerned and the witnesses are to be found. 
The questions are of great importance. This is evident 
already from the fact that the journey to the thingstead 
is a troublesome one for the gods, at least for Thor, who, 
to get thither, must wade across four rivers. More- 
over, the questions are of such a character that they occur 
every day ( Grimnersmal, 29, 31). 

At this point of the investigation the results hitherto 
gained from the various premises unite themselves in the 
following manner : 

The Asas daily go to the thingstead near Urd's foun- 
tain. At the thingstead near Urd's fountain there daily 
arrive hosts of the dead. 

The task of the Asas near Urd's fountain is to judge 
in questions of which the lower world is the proper fo- 
rum. When the dead arrive at Urd's fountain their final 
doom is not yet sealed. They have not yet been sepa- 
rated into the groups which are to be divided between 
Asgard, Hel, and Nifelhel. 

The question now is, Can we conceive that the daily 
journey of the Asas to Urd's fountain and the daily ar- 
rival there of the dead have no connection with each 
other? That the judgments daily pronounced by the 
Asas at this thingstead, and that the daily event in ac- 
cordance with which the dead at this thingstead are di- 


vided between the realms of bliss and those of torture 
have nothing in common ? 

That these mythological facts should have no connec- 
tion with each other is hard to conceive for anyone who, 
in doubtful questions, clings to that which is probable 
rather than to the opposite. The probability becomes a 
certainty by the following circumstances : 

Of the kings Vanlande and Half dan, Ynglingatal says 
that after death they met Odin. According to the com- 
mon view presented in our mythological text-books, this 
should not have happened to either of them, since both of 
them died from disease. One of them was visited and 
fetched by that choking spirit of disease called vitta vattr, 
and in this way he was permitted "to meet Odin" (kom 
a vit Vilja brodur} . The other was visited by Hvedrungs 
m<zr, the daughter of Loke, who "called him from this 
world to Odin's Thing." 

Ok til things 
thridja jofri 
Hvedrungs maer 
or heimi baud. 

Thing-bod means a legal summons to appear at a Thing, 
at the seat of judgment. Bjoda til things is to perform 
this legal summons. Here it is Hvedrung's kinswoman 
who comes with sickness and death and thing-bod to King 
Half dan, and summons him to appear before the judg- 
ment-seat of Odin. As, according to mythology, all the 
dead, and as, according to the mythological text-books, 
at least all those who have died from disease must go to 
Hel, then certainly King Halfdan, who died from dis- 



ease, must descend to the lower world; and as there is a 
Thing at which Odin and the Asas daily sit in judgment, 
it must have been this to which Halfdan was summoned. 
Otherwise we would be obliged to assume that Hved- 
rung's kinswoman, Loke's daughter, is a messenger, not 
from the lower world and Urd, but from Asgard, al- 
though the strophe further on expressly states that she 
comes to Halfdan on account of "the doom of the norns ;" 
and furthermore we would be obliged to assume that the 
king, who had died from sickness, after arriving in the 
lower world, did not present himself at Odin's court 
there, but continued his journey to Asgard, to appear at 
some of the accidental deliberations which are held at 
the thingstead there. The passage proves that at least 
those who have died from sickness have to appear at the 
court which is held by Odin in the lower world. 



In Sigrdrifumal (str. 12) we read: 

Malrunar skaltu kunna, 

vilt-ar magni ther 

heiptom gjaldi harm; 

thaer um vindr, 

thaer um vefr, 

thser um setr allar saman 

a thvi thingi, 

er thjothir scolo 

i fulla doma fara. 



"Speech-runes you must know, if you do not wish that 
the strong one with consuming woe shall requite you for 
the injury you have caused. All those runes you must 
wind, weave, and place together in that Thing where the 
host of people go into the full judgments." 

In order to make the significance of this passage clear, 
it is necessary to explain the meaning of speech-runes or 

Several kinds of runes are mentioned in Sigrdrifumal, 
all of a magic and wonderful kind. Among them are 
mal-runes (speech-runes). They have their name from 
the fact that they are able to restore to a tongue mute or 
silenced in death the power to nuzla (speak). Odin em- 
ploys mal-runes when he rists i runom, so that a corpse 
from the gallows comes and mcelir with him (Havam., 
157). According to Saxo (i. 38), Hadding places a 
piece of wood risted with runes under the tongue of a 
dead man. The latter then recovers consciousness and 
the power of speech, and sings a terrible song. This is 
a reference to mal-runes. In Gudrunarkvida (i.) it is 
mentioned how Gudrun, mute and almost lifeless (hon 
gordlz at deyja), sat near Sigurd's dead body. One 
of the kinswomen present lifts the napkin off from Si- 
gurd's head. By the sight of the features of the loved 
one Gudrun awakens again to life, bursts into tears, and 
is able to speak. The evil Brynhild then curses the being 
(vettr} which "gave mal-runes to Gudrun," that is to 
say, freed her tongue, until then sealed as in death. 

Those who are able to apply these mighty runes are 
very few. Odin boasts that he knows them. Sigrdrifva, 



who also is skilled in them, is a dis, not a daughter of 
man. The runes which Hadding applied were risted by 
Hardgrep, a giantess who protected him. But within 
the court here in question men come in great numbers 
(thjodir), and among them there must be but a small num- 
ber who have penetrated so deeply into the secret knowl- 
edge of runes. For those who have done so it is of im- 
portance and advantage. For by them they are able to 
defend themselves against complaints, the purpose of 
which is "to requite with consuming woe the harm they 
have done." In the court they are able to mala (speak) 
in their own defence. 

Thus it follows that those hosts of people who enter 
this thingstead stand there with speechless tongues. They 
are and remain mute before their judges unless they 
know the mal-runes which are able to loosen the fetters 
of their tongues. Of the dead man's tongue it is said 
in Solarljod (44) that it is tit tres metin ok kolnat alt fyr 

The sorrow or harm one has caused is requited in this 
Thing by heiptir, unless the accused is able thanks to 
the mal-runes to speak and give reasons in his defence. 
In Havamal (151) the word heiptir has the meaning of 
something supernatural and magical. It has a similar 
meaning here, as Vigfusson has already pointed out. 
The magical mal-runes, wound, woven, and placed to- 
gether, form as it were a garb of protection around the 
defendant against the magic heiptir. In the Havamal 
strophe mentioned the skald makes Odin paraphrase, or 
at least partly explain, the word heiptir with mein, which 



"eat" their victims. It is in the nature of the myth to 
regard such forces as personal beings. We have already 
seen the spirits of disease appear in this manner (see 
No. 60') . The heiptir were also personified. They were 
the Krinnyes of the Teutonic mythology, armed with 
scourges of thorns (see below). 

He who at the Thing particularly dispenses the law of 
requital is called magni. The word has a double mean- 
ing, which appears in the verb magna, which means both 
to make strong and to operate with supernatural means. 

From all this it must be sufficiently plain that the Thing 
here referred to is not the Althing in Iceland or the Gula- 
thing in Norway, or any other Thing held on the surface 
of the earth. The thingstead here discussed must be sit- 
uated in one of the mythical realms, between which the 
earth was established. And it must be superhuman be- 
ings of higher or lower rank who there occupy the judg- 
ment-seats and requite the sins of men with heiptir. 
But in Asgard men do not enter with their tongues sealed 
in death. For the einherjes who are invited to the joys 
of Valhal there are no heiptir prepared. Inasmuch as the 
mythology gives us information about only two thing- 
steads where superhuman beings deliberate and judge 
namely, the Thing in Asgard and the Thing near Urd's 
fountain and inasmuch as it is, in fact, only in the latter 
that the gods act as judges, we are driven by all the evi- 
dences to the conclusion that Sigrdrifumal has described 
to us that very thingstead at which Hvedrung's kins- 
woman summoned King Halfdan to appear after death. 

Sigrdrifumal, using the expression a thvi, sharply dis- 


tinguished this thingstead or court from all others. The 
poem declares that it means that Thing where hosts of 
people go into full judgments. "Full" are those judg- 
ments against which no formal or real protests can be 
made decisions which are irrevocably valid. The only 
kind of judgments of which the mythology speaks in this 
manner, that is, characterises as judgments that "never 
die," are those "over each one dead." 

This brings us to the well-known and frequently- 
quoted strophes in Havamal: 

Str. 76. Deyr fae, 

deyja fraendr, 
deyr sialfr it sama; 
enn orztirr 
deyr aldregi 

hveim er ser godan getr. 
Str. 77. Deyr fae, 

deyja fraendr, 

deyr sialfr it sama; 

ec veit einn 

at aldri deyr: 

domr urn daudan hvern. 

(76) "Your cattle shall die; your kindred shall die; 
you yourself shall die; but the fair fame of him who has 
earned it never dies." 

(77) "Your cattle shall die; your kindred shall die; 
you yourself shall die; one thing I know which never 
dies : the judgment on each one dead." 

Hitherto these passages have been interpreted as if 
Odin or Havamal's skald meant to say What you have 
of earthly possessions is perishable; your kindred and 



yourself shall die. But I know one thing that never 
dies : the reputation you acquired among men, the posthu- 
mous fame pronounced on your character and on your 
deeds : that reputation is immortal, that fame is imperish- 

But can this have been the meaning intended to be con- 
veyed by the skald? And could these strophes, which, 
as it seems, were widely known in the heathendom of the 
North, have been thus understood by their hearers and 
readers ? Did not Havamal's author, and the many who 
listened to and treasured in their memories these words 
of his, know as well as all other persons who have some 
age and experience, that in the great majority of cases 
the fame acquired by a person scarcely survives a gen- 
eration, and passes away together with the very memory 
of the deceased? 

Could it have escaped the attention of the Havamal 
skald and his hearers that the number of mortals is so large 
and increases so immensely with the lapse of centuries that 
the capacity of the survivors to remember them is utterly 
insufficient ? 

Was it not a well-established fact, especially among the 
Germans, before they got a written literature, that the 
skaldic art waged, so to speak, a desperate conflict with 
the power of oblivion, in order to rescue at least the names 
of the most distinguished heroes and kings, but that 
nevertheless thousands of chiefs and warriors were after 
the lapse o>f a few generations entirely forgotten? 

Did not Havamal's author know that millions of men 
have, in the course of thousands of years, left this world 



without leaving so deep footprints in the sands of time 
that they could last even through one generation ? 

Every person of some age and experience has known 
this, and Havamal's author too. The lofty strains above 
quoted do not seem to be written by a person wholly 
destitute of worldly experience. 

The assumption that Havamal with that judgment on 
each one dead, which is said to be imperishable, had refer- 
ence to the opinion of the survivors in regard to the 
deceased attains its climax of absurdity when we consider 
that the poem expressly states that it means the judgment 
on every dead person "domr um daudan hvern" In the 
cottage lying far, far in the deep forest dies a child, hardly 
known by others than by its parents, who, too, are soon 
to be harvested by death. But the judgment of the sur- 
vivors in regard to this child's character and deeds is to 
be imperishable, and the good fame it acquired during its 
brief life is to live for ever on the lips of posterity! 
Perhaps it is the sense of the absurdity to which the cur- 
rent assumption leads on this point that has induced some 
of the translators to conceal the word hvern (every) and 
led them to translate the words domr um dcmdan hvern in 
an arbitrary manner with "judgment on the dead man." 

If we now add that the judgment of posterity on one 
deceased, particularly if he was a person of great 
influence, very seldom is so unanimous, reliable, well- 
considered, and free from prejudice that in these respects 
it ought to be entitled to permanent validity, then we find 
that the words of the Havamal strophes attributed to 
Odin's lips, when interpreted as hitherto, are not words of 



wisdom, but the most stupid twaddle ever heard declaimed 
in a solemn manner. 

There are two reasons for the misunderstanding the 
one is formal, and is found in the word ords-tirr (str. 76) ; 
the other reason is that Gylfaginning, which too long has 
had the reputation of being a reliable and exhaustive 
codification of the scattered statements of the mythic 
sources, has nothing to say about a court for the dead. 
It knows that, according to the doctrine of the heathen 
fathers, good people come to regions of bliss, the wicked 
to Nifelhel ; but who he or they were who determined how 
far a dead person was worthy of the one fate or the other, 
on this point Gylfaginning has not a word to say. From 
the silence of this authority, the conclusion has been 
drawn that a court summoning the dead within its forum 
was not to be found in Teutonic mythology, although 
other Aryan and non-Aryan mythologies have presented 
such a judgment-seat, and that the Teutonic fancy, though 
always much occupied with the affairs of the lower world 
and with the conditions of the dead in the various realms 
of death, never felt the necessity of conceiving for itself 
clear and concrete ideas of how and through whom the 
deceased were determined for bliss or misery. The 
ecclesiastical conception, which postpones the judgment 
to the last day of time and permits the souls of the dead 
to be transferred, without any special act of judgment, to 
heaven, to purgatory, or to hell, has to some extent contri- 
buted to making us familiar with this idea which was 
foreign to the heathens. From this it followed that 
scholars have been blind to the passages in our mythical 



records which speak of a court in the lower world, and 
they have either read them without sufficient attention (as, 
for instance, the above-quoted statements of Ynglingatal, 
which it is impossible to harmonise with the current con- 
ception), or interpreted them in an utterly absurd manner 
(which is the case with Sigrdrifumal, str. 12), or they 
have interpolated assumptions, which, on a closer inspec- 
tion, are reduced to nonsense (as is the case with the 
Havamal strophes), or given them a possible, but improb- 
able, interpretation (thus Sonatorrek, 19). The com- 
pound ordstirr is composed of ord, gen, ords, and tirr. 
The composition is of so loose a character that the two 
parts are not blended into a new word. The sign of the 
gen. -s is retained, and shows that ordstirr, like lofstirr, is 
not in its sense and in its origin a compound, but is writ- 
ten as one word, probably on account of the laws of accen- 
tuation. The more original meaning of ordstirr is, there- 
fore, to be found in the sense of ords tirr. 

Tirr means reputation in a good sense, but still not in 
a sense so decidedly good but that a qualifying word, 
which makes the good meaning absolute, is sometimes 
added. Thus in lofs-tirr, laudatory reputation ; godr tirr, 
good reputation. In the Havamal strophe 76, above-quo- 
ted, the possibility of an ords tirr which is not good is 
presupposed. See the last line of the strophe. 

So far as the meaning of or>d is concerned, we must 
leave its relatively more modern and grammatical sense 
(word) entirely out of the question. Its older significa- 
tion is an utterance (one which may consist of many 
"words" in a grammatical sense), a command, a result, a 



judgment; and these older significations have long had a 
conscious existence in the language. Compare Forn- 
manna, ii. 237 : "The first word : All shall be Christians ; 
the second word: All heathen temples and idols shall be 
unholy," &c. 

In Voluspa (str. 27) ord is employed in the sense of an 
established law or judgment among the divine powers, 
a gengoz eidar, ord oc sari, where the treaties between 
the Asas and gods, solemnised by oaths, were broken. 

When ord occurs in purely mythical sources, it is most 
frequently connected with judgments pronounced in the 
lower world, and sent from Urd's fountain to their desti- 
nation. Urdar ord is Urd's judgment, which must come 
to pass (Fjolsvinnsm., str. 48), no matter whether it con- 
cerns life or death. Feigdar ord, a judgment determining 
death, comes to Fjolner, and is. fulfilled "where Frode 
dwelt" (Yng.-tal, Heimskr., 14). Dauda ord, the judg- 
ment of death, awaited Dag the Wise, when he came to 
Vorva (Yng.-tal, Heimskr., 21). To a subterranean 
judgment refers also the expression bana-ord, which fre- 
quently ocurs. 

Vigfusson (Diet., 466) points out the possibility of an 
etymological connection between ord and Urdr. He com- 
pares word (ord} and wurdr (urdr), word and weird 
(fate, goddess of fate) . Doubtless there was, in the most 
ancient time, a mythical idea-association between them. 

These circumstances are to be remembered in connection 
with the interpretation of ordstirr, ords-tirr in Havamal, 
76. The real meaning of the phrase to be; reputation 
based on a decision, on an utterance of authority. 



When ordstirr had blended into a compound word, 
there arose by the side of its literal meaning another, in 
which the accent fell so heavily on tirr that ord is super- 
fluous and gives no additional meaning of a judgment on 
which this tirr is based. Already in Hofudlausn (str. 26) 
ordstirr is used as a compound, meaning simply honour- 
able reputation, honour. There is mention of a victory 
which Erik Blood-axe won, and it is said that he thereby 
gained ordstirr (renown). 

In interpreting Havamal (76) it would therefore seem 
that we must choose between the proper and figurative 
sense of ordstirr. The age of the Havamal strophe is not 
known. If it was from it Eyvind Skaldaspiller drew his 
deyr fe, deyja frandr, which he incorporated in his drapa 
on Hakon the Good, who died in 960, then the Havamal 
strophe could not be composed later than the middle of the 
tenth century. Hofudlausn was composed by Egil Skal- 
lagrimson in the year 936 or thereabout. From a chrono- 
logical point of view there is therefore nothing to hinder 
our aplying the less strict sense, "honourable reputation, 
honour," to the passage in question. 

But there are other hindrances. If the Havamal skald 
with ords-tirr meant "honourable reputation, honour," he 
could, not, as he has done, have added the condition which 
he makes in the last line of the strophe : hveim er ser godan 
getr, for the idea "good" would then already be contained 
in ordstirr. If in spite of this we would take the less strict 
sense, we must subtract from ordstirr the meaning of 
honourable reputation, honour, and conceive the expres- 
sion to mean simply reputation in general, a meaning 

which the word never had. 



We are therefore forced to the conclusion that the 
meaning of court-decision, judgment, which ord has not 
only in Ynglingatal and Fjolsvinnsmal, but also in lin- 
guistic usage, was clear to the author of the Havamal 
strophe, and that he applied ords tirr in its original sense 
and was speaking of imperishable judgments. 

It should also have been regarded as a matter of course 
that the judgment which, according to the Havamal 
strophe (77), is passed on everyone dead, and which itself 
never dies, must have been prepared by a court whose 
decision could not be questioned or set aside, and that the 
judgment must have been one whose influence is eternal, 
for the infinity of the judgment itself can only depend on 
the infinity of its operation. .That the more or less vague 
opinions sooner or later committed to oblivion in regard 
to a deceased person should be supposed to contain such 
a judgment, and to have been meant by the immortal doom 
over the dead, I venture to include among the most extra- 
ordinary interpretations ever produced. 

Both the strophes are, as is evident from the first glance, 
most intimately connected with each other. Both begin : 
deyr fee, deyja frandr. Ord in the one strophe corre- 
sponds to domr in the other. The latter strophe declares 
that the judgment on every dead person is imperishable, 
and thus completes the more limited statement of the 
foregoing strophe, that the judgment which gives a good 
renown is everlasting. The former strophe speaks of only 
one category of men who have been subjected to an 
ever-valid judgment, namely of that category to whose 
honour the eternal judgment is pronounced. The second 


strophe speaks of both the categories, and assures us that 
the judgment on the one as on the other category is 

The strophes are by the skald attributed to Odin's lips. 
Odin pronounces judgment every day near Urd's fountain 
at the court to which King Halfdan was summoned, and 
where hosts of people with fettered tongues await their 
final destiny (see above.) The assurances in regard to 
the validity of the judgment on everyone dead are thus 
given by a being who really may be said to know what he 
talks about (ec veit, &c.), namely, by the judge himself. 

In the poem Sonatorrek the old Egil Skallagrimson 
laments the loss of sons and kindred, and his thoughts are 
occupied with the fate of his children after death. When 
he speaks of his son Gunnar, who in his tender years was 
snatched away by a sickness, he says (str. 19) : 

Son minn 
sottar brimi 
or heimi nam, 
thann ec veit 
at varnadi 
vamma varr 
vid narrueli. 

"A fatal fire of disease (fever?) snatched from this 
world a son of mine, of whom I know that he, careful as 
he was in regard to sinful deeds, took care of himself for 

To understand this strophe correctly, we must know 
that the skald in the preceding 17th, as in the succeeding 
20th, strophe, speaks of Gunnar's fate in the lower world. 



The word namceli occurs nowhere else, and its meaning 1 
is not known. It is of importance to our subject to find 
it out. 

In those compounds of which the first part is nd-, nd 
may be the adverbial prefix, which means near by, by the 
side of, or it may be the substantive nar, which means a 
corpse, dead body, and in a mythical sense one damned, 
one who dies for the second time and comes to Nifelhel 
(see No. 60). The question is now, to begin with, 
whether it is the adverbial prefix or the substantive nd- 
which we have in ndm&li. 

Compounds which have the adverbial nd as the first 
part of the word are very common. In all of them the 
prefix nd- implies nearness in space or in kinship, or it has 
the signification of some thing correct or exact. 

(1) In regard to space: ndbud, ndbui, ndbyli, ndgranna, 
ndgranni, ndgrennd, ndgrenni, ndkommin, ndkvcema, nd- 
kvcemd, ndkvamr, ndleid, ndlczgd, nalcegjast, ndlcegr, 
ndmunda, ndsessi, ndseta, ndsettr, nds&ti, navera, ndveru- 
kona, ndverandi, ndvist, ndvistarkona, ndvistarmadr, nd- 

(2) In regard to friendship: ndborinn, ndfrcendi, nd- 
fra&ndkona, ndmagr, ndskyldr, ndstadr, ndongr. 

(3) In regard to correctness, exactness: ndkvami, 
nakvamliga, ndkvcemr. 

The idea of correctness comes from the combination of 
nd- and kvcemi, kvcemliga, kvcemr. The exact meaning 
is that which comes near to, and which in that sense is 
precise, exact, to the point. 

These three cases exhaust the meanings of the adver- 



bial prefix nd-. I should consider it perilous, and as the 
abandoning of solid ground under the feet, if we, without 
evidence from the language tried, as has been done, to 
give it another hitherto unknown signification. 

But none of these meanings can be applied to ndmceli. 
In analogy with the words under (1) it can indeed mean 
"An oration held near by ;" but this signification produces 
no sense in the above passage, the only place where it is 

In another group of words the prefix nd- is the noun 
ndr. Here belong ndbjargir, ndbleikr, ndgrindr, ndgoll, 
ndreid, ndstrandir, and other words. 

Mali means a declamation, an oration, an utterance, a 
reading, or the proclamation of a law. Mala, malandi, 
formalandi, formali, nymczli, are used in legal language. 
Formalandi is a defendant in court. Form&li is his 
speech or plea. Nymceli is a law read or published for the 
first time. 

Mali can take either a substantive or adjective as pre- 
fix. Examples : Gudmceli, fullmali. Nd from ndr can be 
used as a prefix both to a noun and to an adjective. 
Examples : ndgrindr, ndbleikr. 

Ndmali should acordingly be an oration, a declaration, 
a proclamation, in regard to ndr. From the context we 
find that ndmcdi is something dangerous, something to 
look out for. Gunnar is dead and is gone to the lower 
world, which contains not only happiness but also terrors ; 
but his aged father, who in another strophe of the poem 
gives to understand that he had adhered faithfully to the 
religious doctrines of his fathers, is convinced that his son 



has avoided the dangers implied in ndmceli, as he had 
no sinful deed to blame himself for. In the following 
strophe (20) he expressed his confidence that the deceased 
had been adopted by Gauta spjalli, a friend of Odin in the 
lower world, and had landed in the realm of happiness. 
(In regard to Gauta spjalli see further on. The expres- 
sion is applicable both to Mimer and Honer). 

Ndmceli must, therefore, mean a declaration (1) that is 
dangerous; (2) which does not affect a person who has 
lived a blameless life; (3) which refers to the dead and 
affects those who have not been vamma varir, on the look- 
out against blameworthy and criminal deeds. 

The passage furnishes additional evidence that the dead 
in the lower world make their appearance in order to be 
judged, and it enriches our knowledge of the mythological 
eschatology with a technical term (ndmceli) for that judg- 
ment which sends sinners to travel through the Na-gates 
to Nifelhel. The opposite of namali is ords tirr, that 
judgment which gives the dead fair renown, and both 
kinds of judgments are embraced in the'phrase domr mm 
daudan. Ndmceli is a proclamation for ndir, just as 
ndgrindr are gates and ndstrandir are strands for ndir. 



Those hosts which are conducted by their psychopomps 



to the Thing near Urd's fountain proceed noiselessly. It 
is a silent journey. The bridge over Gjoll scarcely 
resounds under the feet of the death-horses and of the 
dead (Gylfaginning). The tongues of the shades are 
sealed (see No. 70). 

This thingstead has, like all others, had its judgment- 
seats. Here are seats (in Voluspa called rokstolar) for 
the holy powers acting as judges. There is also a rostrum 
(d thularstoli at Urdar brunni Havam., Ill) and 
benches or chairs fon the dead (compare the phrase, folia 
d Helpalla Fornald., i. 397, and the sitting of the dead 
one, a nornastoli Solarlj., 51). Silent they must 
receive their doom unless they possess mal-runes (see 
No. 70). 

The dead should come well clad and ornamented. 
Warriors bring their weapons of attack and defence. The 
women and children bring ornaments that they were fond 
of in life. Hades-pictures of those things which kinsmen 
and friends placed in the grave-mounds accompany the 
dead (Hakonarm., 17; Gylfaginning, 52) as evidence to 
the judge that they enjoyed the devotion and respect of 
their survivors. The appearance presented by the shades 
assembled in the Thing indicates to what extent the 
survivors heed the law, which commands respect for the 
dead and care for the ashes of the departed. 

Many die under circumstances which make it impossi- 
ble for their kinsmen to observe these duties. Then 
strangers should take the place of kindred. The condition 
in which these shades come to the Thing shows best 
whether piety prevails in Midgard ; for noble minds take 



to heart the advices found as follows in Sigrdrifumal, 33, 
34: "Render the last service to the corpses you find on 
the ground, whether from sickness they have died, or 
are drowned, or are from weapons dead. Make a bath for 
those who are dead, wash their hands and their head, 
comb them and wipe them dry, ere in the coffin you lay 
them, and pray for their happy sleep." 

It was, however, not necessary to wipe the blood off 
from the byrnie of one fallen by the sword. It was not 
improper for the elect to make their entrance in Valhal 
in a bloody coat of mail. Eyvind Skaldaspiller makes 
King Hakon come all stained with blood (allr i dreyra 
drifinn) into the presence of Odin. 

When the gods have arrived from Asgard, dismounted 
from their horses (Gylfag.) and taken their judges' seats, 
the proceedings begin, for the dead are then in their places, 
and we may be sure that their psychopomps have not been 
slow on their Thing- journey. Somewhere on the way 
the Hel-shoes must have been tried; those who ride to 
Valhal must then have been obliged to dismount. The 
popular tradition first pointed out by Walter Scott and 
J. Grimm about the need of such shoes for the dead and 
about a thorn-grown heath, which they have to cross, is 
not of Christian but of heathen origin. Those who have 
shown mercy to fellowmen that in this life, in a figurative 
sense, had to travel thorny paths, do not need to fear torn 
shoes and bloody feet (W. Scott, Minstrelsy, ii.) ; and 
when they are seated on Urd's benches, their very shoes 
are, by their condition, a conspicuous proof in the eyes of 
the court that they who have exercised mercy are worthy 
of mercy. C07 



The Norse tradition preserved in Gisle Surson's saga in 
regard to the importance for the dead to be provided with 
shoes reappears as a popular tradition, first in England, 
and then several places (Mullenhoff, Deutsche Alt., v. 1, 
114; J. Grimm., Myth., iii. 697; nachtr., 349; Weinhold, 
Altn. Leb., 494 ; Mannhardt in zeitschr. f. deutsch. Myth., 
iv. 420 1 ; Simrock, Myth., v. 127). Visio Godeschalci 
describes a journey which the pious Holstein peasant 
Godeskalk, belonging to the generation immediately pre- 
ceding that which by Vicelin was converted to Chris- 
tianity, believed he had made in the lower world. There is 
mentioned an immensely large and beautiful linden-tree 
hanging full of shoes, which were handed down to such 
dead travellers as had exercised mercy during their lives. 
When the dead had passed this tree they had to cross a 
heath two miles wide, thickly grown with thorns, and 
then they came to a river full of irons with sharp edges. 
The unjust had to wade through this river, and suffered 
immensely. They were cut and mangled in every limb; 
but when they reached the other strand, their bodies were 
the same as they had been when they began crossing the 
river. Compare with this statement Solarljod, 42, where 
the dying skald hears the roaring of subterranean streams 
mixed with much blood Gylfar straumar grenjudu, 
blandnir mjok ved blod. The just are able to cross the 
river by putting their feet on boards a foot wide and 
fourteen feet long, which floated on the water. This is 
the first day's journey. On the second day they come to 
a point where the road forked into three ways one to 
heaven, one to hell, and one between these realms (com pare 



Miillenhoff, D. Alt., v. 113, 114). These are all mythic 
traditions, but little corrupted by time and change of 
religion. That in the lower world itself Hel-shoes were 
to be had for those who were not supplied with them, 
but still deserved them, is probably a genuine mythologi- 
cal idea. 

Proofs and witnesses are necessary before the above- 
named tribunal, for Odin is far from omniscient. He is 
not even the one who knows the most among the beings 
of mythology. Urd and Mimer know more than he. 
With judges on the one hand who, in spite of all their 
loftiness, and with all their superhuman keenness, never- 
theless are not infallible, and with defendants on the other 
hand whose tongues refuse to. serve them', it might happen, 
if there were no proofs and witnesses, that a judgment, 
everlasting in its operations, not founded on exhaustive 
knowledge and on well-considered premises, might be 
proclaimed. But the judgment on human souls pro- 
claimed by their final irrevocable fate could not in the sight 
of the pious and believing bear the stamp of uncertain 
justice. There must be no doubt that the judicial pro- 
ceedings in the court of death weref so managed that the 
wisdom and justice of the dicta were raised high above 
every suspicion of being mistaken. 

The heathen fancy shrank from the idea of a knowledge 
able of itself to embrace all, the greatest and the least, 
that which has been, is doing, and shall be in the world 
of thoughts, purposes, and deeds. It hesitated at all 
events to endow its gods made in the image of man with 
omniscience. It was easier to conceive a divine insight 



which was secured by a net of messengers and spies 
stretched throughout the world. Such a net was cast 
over the human race by Urd, and it is doubtless for this 
reason that the subterranean Thing of the gods was 
located near her fountain and not near Mimer's. Urd 
has given to every human soul, already before the hcnir of 
birth, a maid-servant, a hamingje, a norn of lower rank, 
to watch over and protect its earthly life. And so there 
was a wide-spread organization of watching and protect- 
ing spirits, each one of whom knew the motives and deeds 
of a special individual. As such an organisation was at 
the service of the court, there was no danger that the 
judgment over each one dead would not be as just as it 
was unappealable and everlasting. 

The hamingje hears of it before anyone else when her 
mistress has announced dauda ord the doom of death, 
against her favourite. She (and the gipte, heille, see No. 
64) leaves him then. She is horfin, gone, which can be 
perceived in dreams (Balder's Dream, 4) or by revelations 
in other ways, and this is an unmistakable sign of death. 
But if the death-doomed person is not a nithing, whom 
she in sorrow and wrath has left, then she by no means 
abandons him. They are like members of the same body, 
which can only be separated by mortal sins (see below). 
The hamingje goes to the lower world, the home of her 
nativity (see No. 64), to prepare an abode there for her 
favourite, which also is to belong to her (Gisle Surson's 
saga.) It is as if a spiritual marriage was entered into 
between her and the human soul. 

But on the dictum of the court of death it depends 


where the dead person is to find his haven. The judg- 
ment, although not pronounced on the hamingje, touches 
her most closely. When the most important of all ques- 
tions, that of eternal happiness or unhappiness, is to be 
determined in regard to her favourite, she must be there 
where her duty and inclination bid her be with him 
whose guardian-spirit she is. The great question for her 
is whether she is to continue to share his fate or not. 
During his earthly life she has always defended him. It 
is of paramount importance that she should do so now. 
His lips are sealed, but she is able to speak, and is his 
other ego. And she is not only a witness friendly to him, 
but, from the standpoint of the court, she is a more reliable 
one than he would be himself. 

In Atlamal (str. 28) there occurs a phrase which has 
its origin in heathendom, where it has been employed in 
a clearer and more limited sense than in the Christian 
poem. The phrase is ec qued aflima ordnar ther disir, 
and it means, as Atlamal uses it, that he to whom the 
discs (the hamingje and gipte) have become aflima is 
destined, in spite of all warnings, to go to his ruin. In 
its very nature the phrase suggests that there can occur 
between the hamingje and the human soul another separa- 
tion than the accidental and transient one which is 
expressed by saying that the hamingje is horfin. Aflima 
means "amputated," separated by a sharp instrument from 
the body of which one has been a member. The person 
from whom his discs have been cut off has no longer any 
close relation with them. He is for ever separated from 
them, and his fate is no longer theirs. Hence there are 



persons doomed to die and persons dead who do not have 
hamingjes by them. They are those whom the hamingjes 
in sorrow and wrath have abandoned, and with whom 
they are unable to dwell in the lower world, as they are 
nithings and are awaited in Nifelhel. 

The fact that a dead man sat a nornaistoli or a Helpalli 
without having a hamingje to defend him doubtless was 
regarded by the gods as a conclusive proof that he had 
been a criminal. 

If we may judge from a heathen expression preserved 
in strophe 16 of Atlakvida, and there used in an arbitrary 
manner, then the hamingjes who were "cut off" from 
their unworthy favourite continue to feel sorrow and 
sympathy for them to the last. The expression is nornir 
grata nai, "the norns (hamingjes) bewail the nair." If 
the namali, the na-dictum, the sentence to Nifelhel which 
turns dead criminals into nair, in the eschatological sense 
of the word, has been announced, the judgment is attended 
with tears on the part of the former guardian-spirits of 
the convicts. This corresponds, at all events, with the 
character of the hamingjes. 

Those fallen on the battlefield are not brought to the 
fountain of Urd while the Thing is in session. This 
follows from the fact that Odin is in Valhal when they 
ride across Bi frost, and sends Asas or einherjes to meet 
them with the goblet of mead at Asgard's gate (Eiriksm., 
Hakonarmal). But on the way there has been a separa- 
tion of the good and bad elements among them. Those 
who have no hamingjes must, a nornaistoli, wait for the 
next Thing-day and their judgment. The Christian age 



well remembered that brave warriors who had committed 
nithing acts did not come to Valhal (see Hakon Jarl's 
word in Njala). The heathen records confirm that men 
slain by the sword who had lived a wicked life were sent 
to the world of torture (see Harald Harfager's saga, ch. 
27 the verses about the viking Thorer Wood-beard, who 
fell in a naval battle with Einar Ragnvaldson, and who 
had been scourge to the Orkney ings). 

The high court must have judged very leniently in 
regard to certain human faults and frailties. Sitting long 
by and looking diligently into the drinking-horn certainly 
did not lead to any punishment worth mentioning. The 
same was the case with fondness for female beauty, if 
care was taken not to meddle with the sacred ties of 
matrimony. With a pleasing frankness, and with much 
humour, the Asa-father has told to the children of men 
adventures which he himself has had in that line. He 
warns against too much drinking, but admits without 
reservation and hypocrisy that he himself once was drunk, 
nay, very drunk, at Fjalar's and what he had to suffer, 
on account of his uncontrollable longing for Billing's 
maid, should be to men a hint not to judge each other too 
severely in such matters (see Havamal.) All the less he 
will do so as judge. Those who are summoned to the Thing 
and against whom there are no other charges, may surely 
count on a good ords tirr, if they in other respects have 
conducted themselves in accordance with the wishes of 
Odin and his associate judges : if they have lived lives free 
from deceit, honourable, helpful, and without fear of 
death. This, in connection with respect for the gods, 



for the temples, for their duties to kindred and to the 
dead, is the alpha and the omega of the heathen Teutonic 
moral code, and the sure way to Hel's regions of bliss and 
to Valhal. He who has observed these virtues may, as the 
old skald sings of himself, "glad, with serenity and with- 
out discouragement, wait for Hel." 

Skal ek tho gladr 

med godan vilja 

ok uhryggr 

Heljar bida (Sonatorrek, 24). 

If the judgment on the dead is lenient in these respects, 
it is inexorably severe in other matters. Lies uttered to 
injure others, perjury, murder (secret murder, assassina- 
tion, not justified as blood-revenge) , adultery, the profan- 
ing of temples, the opening of grave-mounds, treason, 
cannot escape their awful punishment. Unutterable 
terrors await those who are guilty of these sins. Those 
psychopomps that belong to Nifelhel await the adjourn- 
ment of the Thing in order to take them to the world of 
torture, and Urd has chains (Heljar reip Solarljod, 27 ; 
Des Todes Seilj. Grimm, D. Myth., 805) which make 
every escape impossible. 



Before the dead leave the thingstead near Urd's foun- 
tain, something which obliterated the marks of earthly 
death has happened to those who are judged happy. 


Pale, cold, mute, and with the marks of the spirits of 
disease, they left Midgard and started on the Hel-way. 
They leave the death-Thing full of the warmth of life, 
with health, with speech, and more robust than they were 
on earth. The shades have become corporal. When 
those slain by the sword ride over the Gjoll to Urd's 
fountain, scarcely a sound is heard under the hoofs of their 
horses; when they ride away from the fountain over 
Bifrost, the bridge resounds under the trampling horses. 
The sagas of the middle ages have preserved, but at the 
same time demonised, the memory of how Hel's inhabi- 
tants were endowed with more than human strength 
(Gretla, 134, and several other passages). 

The life of bliss presupposes health, but also forgetful- 
ness of the earthly sorrows and cares. The heroic poems 
and the sagas of the middle ages have known that there 
was a Hades-potion which brings freedom from sorrow 
and care, without obliterating dear memories or making 
one forget that which can be remembered without longing 
or worrying. In the mythology this drink was, as shall 
be shown, one that produced at the same time vigour of 
life and the forgetfulness of sorrows. 

In Saxo, and in the heroic poems of the Elder Edda, 
which belong to the Gjukung group of songs, there 
reappear many mythical details, though they are some- 
times taken out of their true connection and put in a 
light which does not originally belong to them. Among 
the mythical reminiscences is the Hades-potion. 

In his account of King Gorm's and Thorkil's journey to 
the lower world, Saxo (see No 46) makes Thorkil warn 



his travelling companions from tasting the drinks offered 
them by the prince of the lower world, for the reason 
that they produce forget fulness, and make one desire to 
remain in Gudmund's realm (Hist., Dem,., i. 424 amissa 
memoria . . . pocalis abstinendum edocuit). 

The Gudrun song (ii. 21) places the drinking-horn of 
the lower world in Grimhild's hands. In connection with 
later additions, the description of this horn and its contents 
contains purely mythical and very instructive details in 
regard to the pharmakon nepenthes of the Teutonic lower 

Str. 21. Faerdi mer Grimildr 
full at drecka 
svalt oc sarlict, 
ne ec sacar mundac; 
thar var um aukit 
Urdar magni, 
svalcauldom sx 
oc Sonar dreyra. 

Str. 22. Voro i horni 

hverskyns stafir 
ristnir oc rodnir, 
ratha ec ne mattac, 
lyngfiscr langr 
lands Haddingja, 
ax oscorit, 
innleid dyra. 

"Grimhild handed me in a filled horn to drink a cool, 
bitter drink, in order that I might forget my past afflic- 
tions. This drink was prepared from Urd's strength, 
cool-cold sea, and the liquor of Son*." 

"On the horn were all kinds of staves engraved and 


painted, which I could not interpret : the Hadding-land's 
long heath-fish, unharuested ears of grain, and animals' 

The Hadding-land is, as Sv. Egilsson has already 
pointed out, a paraphrase of the lower world. The para- 
phrase is based on the mythic account known and men- 
tioned by Saxo in regard to Hadding' s journey in Hel's 
realm (see No. 47). 

Heath-fish is a paraphrase of the usual sort for serpent, 
dragon. Hence a lower-world dragon was engraved on 
the horn. More than one of the kind has been mentioned 
already : Nidhog, who has his abode in Nifelhel, and the 
dragon, which, according to Erik Vidforle's saga,, 
obstructs the way to Odain's-acre. The dragon engraved 
on the horn is that of the Hadding-land. Hadding 1 - 
land, on the other hand, does not mean the whole lower 
world, but the regions of bliss visited by Hadding. Thus 
the dragon is such an one as Erik Vidforle's saga had in 
mind. That the author did not himself invent his dragon, 
but found it in mythic records extant at the time, is demon- 
strated by Solar Ijod (54), where it is said that immense 
subterranena dragons come flying from the west the 
opposite direction of that the shades have to take when 
they descend into the lower world and obstruct "the 
street of the prince of splendour" (glavalds gotu). The 
ruler of splendour is Mimer, the prince of the Glittering 
Fields (see Nos. 45-51). 

The Hadding-land's "unharvested ears of grain" 
belong to the flora inaccessible to the devastations of frost, 
the flowers seen by Hadding in the blooming meadows of 



the world below (see No. 47). The expression refers to 
the fact that the Hadding-land has not only imperishable 
flowers and fruits, but also fields of grain which do not 
require harvesting. Compare herewith what Voluspa 
says about the Odain's-acre which in the regeneration of 
the earth rises from the lap of the sea : "unsown the fields 
yield the grain." 

Beside the heath-fish and the unharvested ears of grain, 
there were also seen on the Hadding-land horn dyra- 
innleid. Some interpreters assume that "animals entrails" 
are meant by this expression; others have translated it 
with "animal gaps." There is no authority that innleid 
ever meant entrails, nor could it be so used in a rhetorical- 
poetical sense, except by a very poor poet. Where we 
meet with the word it means a way, a way in, in contrast 
with utleid, a way out. As both Gorms saga and that of 
Erik Vidforle use it in regard to animals watching 
entrances in the lower world, this gives the expression its 
natural interpretation. 

So much for the staves risted on the horn. They all 
refer to the lower world. Now as to the drink which is 
mixed in this Hades-horn. It consists of three liquids : 

Urdar Magn, Urd's strength, 

svalkaldr sasr, cool-cold sea, 

Sonar dreyri. Son's liquid. 

Son has already been mentioned above (No. 21) as one 
of the names of Mimer's fountain, the well of creative 
power and of poetry. Of Son Eilif Gudrunson sings that 


it is enwreathed by bulrushes and is surrounded by a 
border of meadow on which grows the seed of poetry. 

As Urd's strength is a liquid mixed in the horn, nothing 
else can be meant thereby than the liquid in Urd's foun- 
tain, which gives the warmth of life to the world-tree, and 
gives it strength to resist the cold (see No. 63). 

From this it is certain that at least two of the three 
subterranean fountains made their contributions to the 
drink. There remains the well Hvergelmer, and the ques- 
tion now is, whether it and the liquid it contains can be 
recognised as the cool-cold sea. Hvergelmer is, as we 
know, the mother-fountain of all waters, even of the ocean 
(see No. 59). That this immense cistern is called a sea 
is nol strange, since also Urd's fountain is so styled (in 
Voluspa, Cod. Reg., 19.) Hvergelmer is situated under 
the northern root of the world-tree near the borders of 
the subterranean realm of the rime-thurses that is, the 
powers of frost; and the Elivagar rivers flowing thence 
formed the ice in Nifelheim. Cool (Svol) is the name 
of one of the rivers which have their source in Hvergel- 
mer (Grimnersmal). Cool-cold sea is therefore the most 
suitable word with which to designate Hvergelmer when 
its own name is not to be used. 

All those fountains whose liquids are sucked up by the 
roots of the world-tree, and in its stem blend into the sap 
which gives the tree imperishable strength of life, are 
accordingly mixed in the lower-world horn (cp. No. 21). 

That Grimhild, & human being dwelling on earth, 
should have access to and free control of these fountains 
is, of course, from a mythological standpoint, an absur- 



dity. From the standpoint of the Christian time the 
absurdity becomes probable. The sacred things and 
forces of the lower world are then changed into deviltry 
and arts of magic, which are at the service of witches. 
So the author of Gudrunarkvida (ii.) has regarded the 
matter. But in his time there was still extant a tradition, 
or a heathen song, which spoke of the elements of the 
drink which gave to the dead who had descended to Hel, 
and were destined for happiness, a higher and more endur- 
ing power of life ,and also soothed the longing and sorrow 
which accompanied the recollection of the life on earth, 
and this tradition was used in the description of Grimhild's 
drink of forgetfulness. 

Magn is the name of the liquid from Urd's fountain, 
since it magnar, gives strength. The word magna has 
preserved from the days of heathendom the sense of 
strengthening in a supernatural manner by magical or 
superhuman means. Vigfusson (Diet., 408) gives a 
number of examples of this meaning. In Heimskringla 
(ch. 8) Odin "magns" Mimer's head, which is chopped 
off, in such a manner that it recovers the power of speech. 
In Stgrdrifumal (str. 12) Odin himself is, as we have 
seen, called magni, "the one magning," as the highest 
judge of the lower world, who gives magn to the dead 
from the Hades-horn. 

' The author of the second song about Helge Hundings- 
bane has known of dyrar veilgar, precious liquids of which 
those who have gone to Hel partake. The dead Helge 
says that when his beloved Sigrun is to share them with 
him, then it is of no consequence that they have lost 



earthly joy and kingdoms, and that no one must lament 
that his breast was tortured with wounds (Helge Hund., 
ii. 46.) The touching finale of this song, though pre- 
served only in fragments, and no doubt borrowed from a 
heathen source, shows that the power of the subterranean 
potion to allay longing and sorrow had its limits. The 
survivors should mourn over departed loved ones with 
moderation, and not forget that they are to meet again, 
for too batter tears of sorrow fall as a cold dew on the 
breast of the dead one and penetrate it with pain (str. 45). 




In Sonatorrek (str. 18) the skald (Egil Skallagrimson) 
conceives himself with the claims of a father to keep his 
children opposed to a stronger power which has also made 
a claim on them. This power is firm in its resolutions 
against Egil (stendr a fostum thokk a hendi mer) ; but, 
at the same time, it is lenient toward his children, and 
bestows on them the lot of happiness. The mythic person 
who possesses this power is by the skald called Fans hrosta 
hilmir, "the lord of Fann's brewing." 

Fawn is a mythical serpent- and dragon-name (Younger 
Edda, ii. 487, 570). The serpent or dragon which 
possessed this name in the myths or sagas must have been 
one which was engraved or painted somewhere. This is 



evident from the word itself, which is a contraction of 
fdinn, engraved, painted (cp. Egilsson's Lex. Poet., and 
Vigfusson's Diet., sub voce). Its character as such does 
not hinder it from being endowed with a magic life (see 
below.) The object on which it was engraved or painted 
must have been a drinking-horn, whose contents (brew- 
ing) is called by Egil Pawn's, either because the serpent 
encircled the horn which contained the drink, or because 
the horn, on which it was engraved, was named after it. 
In no other way can the expression, Pawn's brewing, be 
explained, for an artificial serpent or dragon is neither the 
one who brews the drink nor the malt from which it is 

The possessor of the horn, embellished with Pawn's 
image, is the mythical person who, to Egil's vexation, has 
insisted on the claim of the lower world to his sons. If 
the skald has paraphrased correctly, that is to say, if he 
has produced a paraphrase which refers to the character 
here in question of the person indicated by the paraphrase, 
then it follows that "Pawn's brewing" and Pann himself, 
like their possessor, must have been in some way connected 
with the lower world. 

From the mythic tradition in Gudrunarkvida (ii.), we 
already know that a serpent, "a long heath-fish," is 
engraved and painted on the subterranean horn, whose 
sorrow-allaying mead is composed of the liquid of the 
three Hades-fountains. 

When King Gorm (Hist., Dan., 427; cp. No. 46) 
made his journey of discovery in the lower world, he saw 
a vast ox-horn (ingens bubali cornu) there. It lay near 



the gold-clad mead-cisterns, the fountains of the lower 
world. Its purpose of being filled with their liquids is 
sufficiently clear from its location. We are also told that 
it was carved with figures (nee calatura artificio 
vacuum), like the subterranean horn in Gudrunarkvida. 
One of Gorm's men is anxious to secure the treasure. 
Then the horn lengthens into a dragon who kills the 
would-be robber (cornu in draconem extractum sui spirit- 
urn latoris eripuit. ) Like Slidrugtanne and other subter- 
ranean treasures, the serpent or dragon on the drinking- 
horn of the lower world is endowed with life when 
necessary, or the horn itself acquires life in the form of a 
dragon, and punishes with death him who has no right to 
touch it. The horn itself is accordingly a Fdnn, an artifi- 
cial serpent or dragon, and its contents is Fdnn's hrosti 
(Fdnn's brewing). 

The Icelandic middle-age sagas have handed down the 
memory of an aurocks-horn (urarhorn), which was found 
in the lower world, and was there used to drink from 
(Fornald., in. 616). 

Thus it follows that the hilmir Fan's hrasta, "the lord 
of Fan's brewing," mentioned by Egil, is the master of 
the Hades-horn, he who determines to whom it is to be 
handed, in order that they may imbibe vigour and forget- 
fulness of sorrow from "Urd's strength, cool sea, and 
Son's liquid." And thus the meaning of the strophe here 
discussed (Sonatorrek, 18) is made perfectly clear. Egil's 
deceased sons have drunk from this horn, and thus they 
have been initiated as dwellers for ever in the lower world. 
Hence the skald can say that Hilmir Fan's hrosta was 

12 523 


inexorably firm against him, their father, who desired to 
keep his sons with him.* 

From Voluspa (str. 28, 29), and from Gylfaginning 
(ch. 15), it appears that the mythology knew of a drink- 
ing horn which belonged at the same time, so to speak, 
both to Asgard and to the lower world. Odin is its posses- 
sor, Mimer its keeper. A compact is made between the 
Asas dwelling in heaven and the powers dwelling in the 
lower world, and a security (ved} is given for the keeping 
of the agreement. On the part of the Asas and their clan 
patriarch Odin, the security given is a drinking-horn. 
From this "Valfather's pledge" Mimer every morning 
drinks mead from his fountain of wisdom (Voluspa, 29), 
and from the same horn he waters the root of the world- 
tree (Voluspa, 28). As Miillenhoff has already pointed 
out (D. Altertk., v. 100 ff.), this drinking-horn is not to 
be confounded with Heimdal's war-trumpet, the Gjallar- 
horn, though Gylfaginning is also guilty of this mistake. 

*The interpretation of the passage, which has hitherto prevailed, begins 
with a text emendation. Fdnn is changed to Finn. Finn is the name of a 
dwarf. Finns hrosti is "the dwarf's drink," and "the dwarf's drink" is, on 
the authority of the Younger Edda, synonymous with poetry. The possessor 
of Finns hrosti is Odin, the lord of poetry. With text emendations of this 
sort (they are numerous, are based on false notions in regard to the adapta- 
bility of the Icelandic Christian poetics to the heathen poetry and usually 
quote Gylfaginning as authority) we can produce anything we like from 
the statements of the ancient records. Odin's character as the Lord of 
poetry has not the faintest idea in common with the contents of the strophe. 
His character as judge at the court near Urd's fountain, and as the one 
who, as the judge of the dead, has authority over the liquor in the sub- 
terranean horn, is on the other hand closely connected with the contents- 
of the strophe, and is alone able to make it consistent and intelligible. 
Further on in the poem, Egil speaks of Odin as the lord of poetry. Odin, 
he says, has not only been severe against him (in the capacity of hilmir 
Fdns hrosta), but he has also been kind in bestowing the gift of poetry, 
and therewith consolation in sorrow (bolva bcetr). The paraphrase here used 
by Egil for Odin's name is Mims vinr (Mimer's friend). From Mimer Odin 
received the drink of inspiration, and thus the paraphrase is in harmony 
with the sense. As hilmir Fdns hrosta Odin has wounded Egil's heart ; as 
Mims vinr (Mimer's friend) he has given him balsam for the wounds 
inflicted. This two-sided conception of Odin's relation to the poet permeates 
the whole poem. 


Thus the drinking-horn given to Mimer by Valfather 
represents a treaty between the powers of heaven and of 
the lower world. Can it be any other than the Hades- 
horn, which, at the thingstead near Urd's fountain, is 
employed in the service both of the Asa-gods and of the 
lower world? The Asas determine the happiness or 
unhappiness of the dead, and consequently decide what 
persons are to taste the strength-giving mead of the horn. 
But the horn has its place in the lower world, is kept there 
there performs a task of the greatest importance, and 
gets its liquid from the fountains of the lower world. 

What Mimer gave Odin in exchange is that drink of 
wisdom, without which he would not have been able to 
act as judge in matters concerning eternity, but after 
receiving the which he was able to find and proclaim the 
right decisions (ord} (ord mer af ordi ordz leitadi Hav., 
141). Both the things exchanged are, therefore, used at 
the Thing near Urd's fountain. The treaty concerned 
the lower world, and secured to the Asas the power 
necessary, in connection with their control of mankind 
and with their claim to be worshipped, to dispense happi- 
ness and unhappiness in accordance with the laws of 
religion and morality. Without this power the Asas 
would have been of but little significance. Urd and 
Mimer would have been supreme. 

With the dyrar veigar (precious liquids), of which the 
dead Helge speaks, we must compare the skiratr veigar 
(clear liquids), which, according to Vegtamskvida, 
awaited the dead Balder in the lower world. After tast- 
ing of it, the god who had descended to Hades regained 



his broken strength, and the earth again grew green (see 
No. 53). 

In dyrar veigar, skirar veigar, the plural form must not 
be passed over without notice. The contents of one and 
the same drink are referred to by the plural veigar 

Her stendr Balldri Here stands for Balder 

of brugginn micedr mead brewed 

skirar veigar clear "veigar" (Vegt., 7) 

which can only be explained as referring to a drink pre- 
pared by a mixing of several liquids, each one of which 
is a veig. Originally veigar seems always to have design- 
ated a drink of the dead, allaying their sorrows and giving 
them new life. In Hyndluljod (50) dyrar veigar has the 
meaning of a potion of bliss which Ottar, beloved by 
Freyja, is to drink. In strophe 48, Freyja threatens the 
sorceress Hyndla with a fire, which is to take her hence 
for ever. In strophe 49, Hyndla answers the threat with 
a similar and worse one. She says she already sees the 
conflagration of the world; there shall nearly all beings 
"suffer the loss of life" (verda flestir fjorlausn thola}, 
Freyja and her Ottar of course included, and their final 
destiny, according to Hyndla's wish, is indicated by 
Freyja's handing Ottar a pain-foreboding, venomous 
drink. Hyndla invokes on Freyja and Ottar the flames of 
Ragnarok and damnation. Freyja answers by including 
Ottar in the protection of the gods, and foretelling that he 
is to drink dyrar veigar. 

Besides in these passages veigar occurs in a strophe 
composed by Ref Gestson, quoted in Skaldskaparmal, ch. 



2. Only half of the strophe is quoted, so that it is 
impossible to determine definitely the meaning of the 
veigar referred to by the skald. We only see that they 
are given by Odin, and that "we" must be grateful to 
him for them. The half strophe is possibly a part of a 
death-song which Ref Gestson is known to have com- 
posed on his foster-father, Gissur. 

Veig in the singular means not only drink, but also 
power, strength. Perhaps Bugge is right in claiming that 
this was the original meaning of the word. The plural 
veigar accordingly means strengths. That this expression 
"strengths" should come to designate in a rational manner 
a special drink must be explained by the fact that "the 
strengths" was the current expression for the liquids of 
which the invigorating mythical drink was composed. 
The three fountains of the lower world are the strength- 
givers of the universe, and as we have already seen, it is 
the liquids of these wells that are mixed into the wonder- 
ful brewing in the subterranean horn. 

When Eilif Gudrunson, the skald converted to Chris- 
tianity, makes Christ, who gives the water of eternal life, 
sit near Urd's fountain, then this is a Christianised 
heathen idea, and refers to the power of this fountain's 
water to give, through the judge of the world, to the pious 
a less troublesome life than that on earth. The water 
which gives warmth to the world-tree and heals its wounds 
is to be found in the immediate vicinity of the thingstead, 
and has also served to strengthen and heal the souls of 
the dead. 

To judge from Hyndluljod (49), those doomed to 



unhappiness must also partake of some drink. It is 
"much mixed with venom" (eitri blandinn miok}, and 
forebodes them evil (illu heilli}. They must, therefore, 
be compelled to drink it before they enter the world of 
misery, and accordingly, no doubt, while they sit a norna- 
stoli on the very thingstead. The Icelandic sagas of the 
middle ages know the venom drink as a potion of misery. 
It appears that this potion of unhappiness did not loosen 
the speechless tongues of the damned. Hitr means the 
lowest degree of cold and poison at the same time, and 
would not, therefore, be serviceable for that purpose, since 
the tongues were made speechless with cold. In Saxo's 
descriptions of the regions of misery in the lower world, 
it is only the torturing demons that speak. The dead 
are speechless, and suffer their agonies without uttering a 
sound; but, when the spirits of torture so desire, and 
force and egg them on they can produce a howl (mug- 
itus. ) There broods a sort of muteness over the forecourt 
of the domain of torture, the Nifelheim inhabited by the 
frost-giants, acording to Skirnersmal's description thereof 
(see No. 60.) Skirner threatens Gerd that she, among 
her kindred there, shall be more widely hated than Heim- 
dal himself; but the manner in which they express this 
hate is with staring eyes, not with words (a thic Hrimnir 
hari, a thic hotvetna stari str. 28). 



When a deceased who has received a good ords tirr 



leaves the Thing, he is awaited in a home v/hich his ham- 
ingje has arranged for her favourite somewhere in "the 
green worlds of the gods." But what he first has to do is to 
leita kynnis, that is, visit kinsmen and friends who have 
gone before him to their final destination (Sonatorr., 17). 
Here he finds not only those with whom he became per- 
sonally acquainted on earth, but he may also visit and 
converse with ancestors from the beginning of time, and 
he may hear the history of his race, nay, the history of 
all past generations, told by persons who were eye-wit- 
nesses. The ways he travels are muwuegar (Sonatorr., 
10), paths of pleasure, where the wonderful regions of 
Urd's and Mimer's realms lie open before his eyes. 

Those who have died in their tender years are received 
by a being friendly to children, which Egil Skallagrimson 
(Sonatorrek, 20) calls Gauta spjalli. The expression 
means "the one with whom Odin counsels," "Odin's 
friend." As the same poem (str. 22) calls Odin Mimer's 
friend, and as in the next place Gauta spjalli is charac- 
terised as a ruler in Godheim (compare gr&nar heimar 
goda Hakonarmal, 12), he must either be Mimer, who 
is Odin's friend and adviser from his youth until his death, 
or he must be Honer, who also is styled Odin's friend, 
his sessi and mdli. That Mimer was regarded as the 
friend of dead children corresponds with his vocation as 
the keeper in his grove of immortality Mimisholt, of the 
Asa-children, the asmegir, who are to be the mankind of 
the regenerated world. But Honer too has an important 
calling in regard to children (see No. 95), and it must 
therefore be left undecided which one of the two is here 


Egil is convinced that his drowned son Bodvar found 
a harbour in the subterranean regions of bliss.* The 
land to which Bodvar comes is called by Egil "the home 
of the bee-ship" (byskips beer.) The poetical figure is 
taken from the experience of seamen, that birds who have 
grown tired on their way across the sea alight on ships to 
recuperate their strength. In Egil's paraphrase the bee 
corresponds to the bird, and the honey-blossom where the 
bee alights corresponds to the ship. The fields of bliss 
are the haven of the ship laden with honey. The figure 
may be criticised on the point of poetic logic, but is of a 
charming kind on the lips of the hardy old viking, and it 
is at the same time very appropriate in regard to a charac- 
teristic quality ascribed to the fields of bliss. For they 
are the proper home of the honey-dew which falls early 
in the morning from the world-tree into the dales near 
Urd's fountain (Voluspa). Lif and Leifthraser live 
through ages on this dew (see Nos. 52, 53), and doubt- 
less this same Teutonic ambrosia is the food of the happy 
dead. The dales of the earth also unquestionably get 
their share of the honey-dew, which was regarded as the 
fertilising and nourishing element of the ground. But 
the earth gets her share directly from Rimfaxe, the steed 
of the Hades-goddess Nat. This steed, satiated with the 
grass of the subterranean meadows, produces with his 
mouth a froth which is honey-dew, and from his bridle the 
dew drops "in the dales" in the morning (Vafthr., 14). 
The same is true of the horses of the valkyries coming 

*Likewise the warlike skald Kormak is certain that he would have come 
to Valhal in case he had been drowned under circumstances described in 
his saga, a work which is, however, very unreliable. 



from the lower world. From their manes, when they 
shake them, falls dew "in deep dales," and thence come 
harvests among the peoples (Helge Hjorv., 28.) 



When the na-dictum (the judgment of those who have 
committed sins unto death) has been proclaimed, they 
must take their departure for their terrible destination. 
They cannot take flight. The locks and fetters of the 
norns (Urdar lokur, H el jar reip} hold them prisoners, 
and amid the tears of their former hamingjes (nornir 
grata nai) they are driven along their path by heiptir, 
armed with rods of thorns, who without mercy beat their 
lazy heels. The technical term for these instruments of 
torture is limar, which seems to have become a word for 
eschatological punishment in general. In Sigrdrifumal 
(23) it is said that horrible limar shall fall heavy on those 
who have broken oaths and promises, or betrayed con- 
fidence. In Sigurd Fafnesb. (ii. 3) it is stated that 
everyone who has lied about another shall long be 
tortured with limar. Both the expressions troll brut.% hris 
i hcela theim and troll visi ydr til burs have their root in 
the recollection of the myth concerning the march of the 
damned under the rod of the Eumenides to Nifelhel (see 
further on this point Nos. 91 and 123). 

Their way from Urd's well goes to the north (see No. 
63) through Mimer's domain. It is ordained that before 


their arrival at the home of torture they are to see the 
regions of bliss. Thus they know what they have for- 
feited. Then their course is past Mimer's fountain, the 
splendid dwellings of Balder and the dsmegir, the golden 
hall of Sindre's race (see Nos. 93, 94), and to those 
regions where mother Nat rests in a hall built on the 
southern spur of the Nida mountains (Forspjallsljod). 
The procession proceeds up this mountain region through 
valleys and gorges in which the rivers flowing from Hver- 
gelmer find their way to the south. The damned leave 
Hvergelmer in their rear and cross the border rivers 
Hraunn (the subterranean Elivagar rivers, see No. 59), 
on the other side of which rise Nifelhel's black, perpendic- 
ular mountain-walls (Saxo, Hist., Dan.; see No. 46). 
Ladders or stairways lead across giddying precipices to 
the Na-gates. Howls and barking from the monstrous 
Nifelheim dogs watching the gates (see Nos. 46, 58) an- 
nounce the arrival of the damned. Then hasten, in compact 
winged flocks, monsters, Nifelheim's birds of prey, Nid- 
hog, Are, Hrcesvelger, and their like to the south, and 
alight on the rocks around the Na-gates (see below). 
When the latter are opened on creaking hinges, the 
damned have died their second death. To that event, 
which is called "the second death," and to what this con- 
sists of, I shall return below (see No. 95). 

Those who have thus marched to a terrible fate are 
sinners of various classes. Below Nifelheim there are 
nine regions of punishment. That these correspond to 
nine kinds of unpardonable sins is in itself probable, and is 
to some extent confirmed by Solarljod, if this poem, stand- 



ing almost on the border-line between heathendom and 
Christianity, may be taken as a witness. Solarljod enum- 
erates nine or ten kinds of punishments for as many differ- 
ent kinds of sins. From the purely heathen records we 
know that enemies of the gods (Loke), perjurers, mur- 
derers, adulterers (see Voluspa), those who have violated 
faith and the laws, and those who have lied about others, 
are doomed to Nifelhel for ever, or at least for a very long 
time (oflengi Sig. Fafn., ii. 3). Of the unmerciful we 
know that they have already suffered great agony on 
their way to Urd's fountain. Both in reference to them 
and to others, it doubtless depended on the investigation 
at the Thing whether they could be ransomed or not. 

The sacredness of the bond of kinship was strongly 
emphasised in the eschatological conceptions. Niflgodr, 
"good for the realm of damnation," is he who slays kins- 
men and sells the dead body of his brother for rings ( Son- 
atorrek, 15) ; but he who in all respects has conducted 
himself in a blameless manner toward his kinsmen and 
is slow to take revenge if they have wronged him, shall 
reap advantage therefrom after death (Sigrdr., 22). 

When the damned come within the Na-gates, the 
winged demons rush at the victims designated for them, 
press them under their wings, and fly with them through 
Nifelheim's foggy space to the departments of torture 
appointed for them. The seeress in Voluspa (str. 62) sees 
Nidhog, loaded with ndir under his wings, soar away 
from the Nida mountains. Whither he was accustomed 
to fly with them appears from strophe 38, where he in 
Nastrands is sucking his prey. When King Gorm, beyond 



i ' , 

the above-mentioned boundary river, and by the Nida 
mountains' ladders, had reached the Na-gates opened for 
him, he sees dismal monsters (Icwvtz atra; cp. Voluspa's 
in dimmi <dreki~) in dense crowds, and hears the air filled 
with their horrible screeches (cp. Voluspa's Ari hlaccar, 
slitr nai neffaulr, 47). When Solarljod's skald enters 
the realm of torture he sees "scorched" birds which are 
not birds but souls (sdlir), flying "numerous as gnats." 



The regions over which the flocks of demons fly are the 
same as those which the author of Skirnersmal has in 
view when Skirner threatens Gerd with sending her to 
the realms of death. It is the home of the frost-giants, 
of the subterranean giants, and of the spirits of disease. 
Here live the offspring of Ymer's feet, the primeval giants 
strangely born and strangely bearing, who are waiting 
for the quaking of Ygdrasil and for the liberation of their 
chained leader, in order that they may take revenge on the 
gods in Ragnarok, and who in the meantime contrive 
futile plans of attack on Hvergelmer's fountain or on the 
north end of the Bi frost bridge. Here the demons of 
restless uneasiness, of mental agony, of convulsive weep- 
ing, and of insanity (Othale, Morn. Ope, and Tope) have 
their home; and here dwells also their queen, Loke's 
daughter, Leikin, whose threshold is precipice and whose 
bed is disease. According to the authority used by Saxo 
in the description of Gorm's journey, the country is 



thickly populated. Saxo calls it urbs, oppidum (cp. Skir- 
nismal's words about the giant-homes, among which Gerd 
is to drag herself hopeless from house to house). The 
ground is a marsh with putrid water (putidum coenum), 
which diffuses a horrible stench. The river Slid flowing 
north out of Hvergelmer there seeks its way in a muddy 
stream to the abyss which leads down to the nine places 
of punishment. Over all hovers Nifelheim's dismal sky. 
The mortals who, like Gorm and his men, have been 
permitted to see these regions, and who have conceived 
the idea of descending into those worlds which lie below 
Nifelheim, or the most of them, are vast mountain caves, 
abyss in question and have cast a glance down into it. 
The place is narrow, but there is enough daylight for its 
bottom to be seen, and the sight thereof is terrible. Still, 
there must have been a path down to it, for when Gorm 
and his men had recovered from the first impression, they 
continued their journey to their destination (Geirrod's 
place of punishment), although the most terrible vapour 
(teterrimus vapor) blew into their faces. The rest that 
Saxo relates is unfortunately wanting both in sufficient 
clearness and in completeness. Without the risk of mak- 
ing a mistake, we may, however, consider it as mythically 
correct that some of the nine worlds of punishment below 
Nifelheim, or the most of them, are vast mountain caves, 
mutually united by openings broken through the mountain 
walls and closed with gates, which do not however, 
obstruct the course of Slid to the Nastrands and to the sea 
outside. Saxo speaks of a perfractam scopuli partem, 
"a pierced part of the mountain," through which travel- 



lers come from one of the subterranean caves to another, 
and between the caves stand gatekeepers (janitores). 
Thus there must be gates. At least two of these "homes" 
have been named after the most notorious sinner found 
within them. Saxo speaks of one called the giant Geir- 
rod's, and an Icelandic document of one called the giant 
Geitir's. The technical term for such a cave of torture 
was guyskuti (clamour-grotto). Saxo translates skuti 
with conclave saxewm. "To thrust anyone before Geitir's 
clamour-grotto" reka einn fyrir Geitis guyskuta was a 
phrase synonymous with damning a person to death and 

The gates between the clamour-grottoes are watched by 
various kinds of demons. Before each gate stand several 
who in looks and conduct seem to symbolise the sins over 
whose perpetrators they keep guard. Outside of one of 
the caves of torture Gorm's men saw club-bearers who 
tried their weapons on one another. Outside of another 
gate the keepers amused themselves with "a monstrous 
game" in which they "mutually gave their ram-backs a 
curved motion." It is to be presumed that some sort of 
perpetrators of violence were tortured within the thresh- 
old, which was guarded by the club-bearers, and that 
the ram-shaped demons amused themselves outside of the 
torture-cave of debauchees. It is also probable that the 
latter is identical with the one called Geitir's. The name 
Geitir comes from geit, goat. Saxo, who Latinised Geitir 
into Gotharus, tells adventures of his which show that 
this giant had tried to get possession of Freyja, and that 
he is identical with Gymer, Gerd's father. According to 



Skirnersmal (35), there are found in Nifelhel goats, that 
is to say, trolls in goat-guise, probably of the same kind as 
those above-mentioned, and it may be with an allusion to 
the fate which awaits Gymer in the lower world, or with 
a reference to his epithet Geitir, that Skirner threatens 
Gerd with the disgusting drink (geita hland} which will 
there be given her by "the sons of misery" (velmegir'). 
One of the lower-world demons, who as his name indi- 
cates, was closely connected with Geitir, is called "Geitir's 
Howl-foot" (Geitis Guyfeti) ; and the expression "to 
thrust anyone before Geitir's Howl-foot" thus has the 
same meaning as to send him to damnation. 

Continuing their journey, Gorm and his men came to 
Geirrod's skuti (see No. 46). 

We learn from Saxo's description that in the worlds of 
torture there are seen not only terrors, but also delusions 
which tempt the eyes of the greedy. Gorm's prudent cap- 
tain Thorkil (see No. 46) earnestly warns his companions 
not to touch these things, for hands that come in contact 
with them are fastened and are held as by invisible bonds. 
The illusions are characterised by Saxo as adis snpellec- 
tilis, an expression which is ambiguous, but may be an 
allusion that they represented things pertaining to tem- 
ples. The statement deserves to be compared with Solarl- 
jod's strophe 65, where the skald sees in the lower world 
persons damned, whose hands are riveted together with 
burning stones. They are the mockers at religious rites 
(they who minst vildu halda helga daga) who are thus 
punished. In the mythology it was probably profaners 
of temples who suffered this punishment. 



The Nastrands and the hall there are thus described in 
Voluspa : 

Sal sa hon standa 
solu fjarri 
Nastrondu a 
nordr horfa dyrr; 
fellu eitrdropar 
inn um Ijora, 
Sa er undinn salr 
orma hryggjum. 

Sa hon thar vada 

thunga strauma 

menn meinsvara 

ok mordvarga 

ok thanns annars glepr 


thar saug Nidhoggr 

nai framgengna, 

sleit vargr vera. 

"A hall she saw stand far from the sun on the Nas- 
trands; the doors opened to the north. Venom-drops 
fell through the roof-holes. Braided is that hall of ser- 

"There she saw perjurers, murderers, and they who 
betrayed the wife of another (adulterers) wade through 
heavy streams. There Nidhog sucked the ndir of the 
dead. And the wolf tore men into pieces." 

Gylfaginning (ch. 52) assumes that the serpents, whose 
backs, wattled together, form the hall, turn their heads 
into the hall, and that they, especially through the open- 
ings in the roof (according to Codex Ups. and Codex 
Hypnones.), vomit forth their floods of venom. The 



latter assumption is well founded. Doubtful seems, on 
the other hand, Gylfaginning's assumption that "the 
heavy streams," which the damned in Nastrands have to 
wade through, flow out over the floor of the hall. As 
the very name Nastrands indicates that the hall is situated 
near a water, then this water, whether it be the river Slidr 
with its eddies filled with weapons, or some other river, 
may send breakers on shore and thus produce the heavy 
streams which Voluspa mentions. Nevertheless Gylfa- 
ginning's view may be correct The hall of Nastrands, 
like its counterpart Valhal, has certainly been regarded 
as immensely large. The serpent-venom raining down 
must have fallen on the floor of the hall, and there is 
nothing to hinder the venom-rain from being thought 
sufficiently abundant to form "heavy streams" thereon 
(see below). 

Saxo's description of the hall in Nastrands by him 
adapted to the realm of torture in general is as follows : 
"The doors are covered with the soot of ages; the walls 
are bespattered with filth ; the roof is closely covered with 
barbs; the floor is strewn with serpents and bespawled 
with all kinds of uncleanliness." The last statement con- 
firms Gylfaginning's view. As this bespawling continues 
without ceasing through ages, the matter thus produced 
must grow into abundance and have an outlet. Remark- 
able is also Saxo's statement, that the doors are covered 
with the soot of ages. Thus fires must be kindled near 
these doors. Of this more later. 

13 539 




Without allowing myself to propose any change of text 
in the Voluspa strophes above quoted, and in pursuance 
of the principle which I have adopted in this work, not to 
base any conclusions on so-called text-emendations, which 
invariably are text-debasings, I have applied these strophes 
as they are found in the texts we have. Like Miillenhoff 
(D. Alterth., v. 121) and other scholars, I am, however, 
convinced that the strophe which begins sd hon thar vada, 
&c., has been corrupted. Several reasons, which I shall 
present elsewhere in a special treatise on Voluspa, make 
this probable ; but simply the circumstance that the strophe 
has ten lines is sufficient to awaken suspicions in anyone's 
mind who holds the view that Voluspa originally con- 
sisted of exclusively eight-lined strophes a view which 
cannot seriously be doubted. As we now have the poem, it 
consists of forty-seven strophes of eight lines each, one 
of four lines, two of six lines each, five of ten lines each, 
four of twelve lines each, and two of fourteen lines each 
in all fourteen not eight-lined strophes against forty- 
seven eight-lined ones ; and, while all the eight-lined ones 
are intrinsically and logically well constructed, it may 
be said of the others, that have more than eight lines 
each, partly that we can cancel the superfluous lines with- 
out injury to the sense, and partly that they look like 
loosely- joined conglomerations of scattered fragments of 
strophes and of interpolations. The most recent effort 



to restore perfectly the poem to its eight-lined strophes 
has been made by Miillenhoff (D. Alterth., v.) ; and 
although this effort may need revision in some special 
points, it has upon the whole given the poem a clearness, 
a logical sequence and symmetry, which of themselves 
make it evident that MullenhofFs premises are correct. 

In the treatise on Voluspa which I shall publish later, 
this subject will be thoroughly discussed. Here I may 
be permitted to say, that in my own efforts to restore 
Voluspa to eight-lined strophes, I came to a point where 
I had got the most of the materials arranged on this 
principle, but there remained the following fragment : 

(1) A fellr austan (1) Falls a river from the east 
um eitrdala around venom dales 
soxum ok sverdum. with daggers and spears, 
Slidr heitir sii. Slid it is called. 

(2) Sa hon thar vada (2) There saw she wade 
thunga strauma through heavy streams 
menn meinsvara perjurers 

ok mordvarga murderers 

ok thanns annars and him who seduces 

glepr eyrarunu. another's wife, 

These fragments make united ten lines. The fourth 
line of the fragment (1) Slidr heitir su has the appear- 
ance of being a mythographic addition by the transcriber 
of the poem. Several similar interpolations which con- 
tain information of mythological interest, but which nei- 
ther have the slightest connection with the context, nor 
are of the least importance in reference to the subject 
treated in Voluspa, occur in our present text-editions of 



this poem. The dwarf-list is a colossal interpolation of 
this kind. If we hypothetically omit this line for the 
present, and also the one immediately preceding (soxum 
ok sverdum), then there remains as many lines as are 
required in a regular eight-line strophe. 

It is further to be remarked that among all the eight- 
lined Voluspa strophes there is not one so badly con- 
structed that a verb in the first half -strophe has a direct 
object in the first line of the second half-strophe, as is the 
case in that of the present text : 

Sa hon thar vada 

thunga strauma 

menn meinsvara 

ok mordvarga 

ok thann's annars glepr 


and, upon the whole, such a construction can hardly 
ever have occurred in a tolerably passable poem. If these 
eight lines actually belonged to one and the same strophe, 
the latter would have to be restored according to the fol- 
lowing scheme : 

(1) Sa hon thar vada 

(2) thunga strauma 

(3) menn meinsvara 

(4) ok mordvarga; 


(6) . 

(7) thann's annars glepr 

(8) eyrarunu. 

and in one of the dotted lines the verb must have been 
found which governed the accusative object thann. 



The lines which should take the place of the dots have, 
in their present form, the following appearance: 

a fellr austan 
um eitrdala. 

The verb which governed thann must then be dfellr, 
that is to say, the verb fellr united with the preposition a. 
But in that case a is not the substantive a, a river, a run- 
ning water, and thus the river which falls from the east 
around venom dales has its source in an error. 

Thus we have, under this supposition, found that there 
is something that fellr a, falls on, streams down upon, 
him who seduces the wife of another. This something 
must be expressed by a substantive, which is now con- 
cealed behind the adverb austan, and must have resem- 
bled it sufficiently in sound to be transformed into it. 

Such a substantive, and the only one of the kind, is 
austr. This means something that can folia a, stream 
down upon; for austr is bail-water (from ausa, to bail), 
waste-water, water flowing out of a gutter or shoot. 

A test as to whether there originally stood austr or not 
is to be found in the following substantive, which now 
has the appearance of eitrdala. For if there was written 
austr, then there must, in the original text, have followed 
a substantive (1) which explained the kind of waste- 
water meant, (2) which had sufficient resemblance to 
eitrdala to become corrupted into it. 

The sea-faring Norsman distinguished between two 
kinds of austr: byttu-austr and d&lu-austr. The bail- 
water in a ship could be removed either by bailing it out 



with scoops directly over the railing, or it could be 
scooped into a dala, a shoot or trough laid over the rail- 
ing. The latter was the more convenient method. The 
difference between these two kinds of austr became a 
popular phrase; compare the expression thd var byttu- 
austr, eigi d&lu-austr. The word dcela was also used 
figuratively ; compare Idta daluna ganga, to let the shoots 
(troughs) run (Gretla, 98), a proverb by which men in 
animated conversation are likened unto dcelur, troughs, 
which are opened for flowing conversation. 

Under such circumstances we might here expect after 
the word austr the word dala, and, as venom here is in 
question, eitr-d&la. 

Eitr-dala satisfies both the demands above made. It 
explains what sort of waste-water is meant, and it re- 
sembles eitr-dala sufficiently to be corrupted into it. 

Thus we get d fellr austr eitrdala: "On (him who 
seduces another man's wife) falls the waste-water of the 
venom-troughs." Which these venom-troughs are, the 
strophe in its entirety ought to define. This constitutes 
the second test of the correctness of the reading. 

It must be admitted that if d fellr austr eitrd&la is the 
original reading, then a corruption into d fellr austan 
eitrdala had almost of necessity to follow, since the prepo- 
sition d was taken to be the substantive d, river, a running 
stream. How near at hand such a confounding of these 
words lies is demonstrated by another Voluspa strophe, 
where the preposition d in d ser hon ausaz aurgom forsi 
was long interpreted as the substantive d. 

We shall now see whether the expression d fellr austr 



eitrdcela makes sense, when it is introduced in lieu of the 
dotted lines above: 

Si hon thar vada 
thunga strauma 
menn meinsvara 
ok mordvarga; 
(en) a fellr austr 

thann's annars glepr 


"There saw she heavy streams (of venom) flow upon 
(or through) perjurers and murderers. The waste-wa- 
ter of the venom-troughs (that is, the waste-water of the 
perjurers and murderers after the venom-streams had 
rushed over them) falls upon him who seduces the wife 
of another man." 

Thus we get not only a connected idea, but a very re- 
markable and instructive passage. 

The verb vada is not used only about persons who wade 
through a water. The water itself is also able to vada 
(cp. eisandi udr vedr undan Rafns S. Sveinb.), to say 
nothing of arrows that wade i folk (Havam., 150), and 
of banners which wade in the throng of warriors. Here 
the venom wades through the crowds of perjurers and 
murderers. The verb vada has so often been used in this 
sense, that it has also acquired the meaning of rushing, 
running, rushing through. Heavy venom-streams run 
through the perjurers and murderers before they fall on 
the adulterers. The former are the venom-troughs, 
which pour their waste-water upon the latter. 

We now return to Saxo's description of the hall of 



Nastrands, to see whether the Voluspa strophe thus hypo- 
thetically restored corresponds with, or is contradicted by, 
it. Disagreeable as the pictures are which we meet with 
in this comparison, we arc nevertheless compelled to take 
them into consideration. 

Saxo says that the wall of the hall is bespattered with 
liquid filth (paries obductus illuvie). The Latin word, 
and the one used by Saxo for venom, is venenum, not 
illwvies, which means filth that has been poured or bespat- 
tered on something. Hence Saxo does not mean venom- 
streams of the kind which, according to Voluspa, are 
vomited by the serpents down through the roof-openings, 
but the reference is to something else, which still must 
have an upper source, since it is bespattered on the wall 
of the hall. 

Saxo further says that the floor is bespawled with all 
sorts of impurity: pavimentum omni sordlum genere 
respersum. The expression confirms the idea, that un- 
mixed venom is not meant here, but everything else of 
the most disgusting kind. 

Furthermore, Saxo relates that groups of damned are 
found there within, which groups he calls consessus. 
Consessus means "a sitting together," and, in a second- 
ary sense, persons sitting together. The word "sit" may 
here be taken in a more or less literal sense. Consessor, 
"the one who sits together with," might be applied to 
every participator in a Roman dinner, though the Romans 
did not actually sit, but reclined at the table. 

As stated, several such consessus, persons sitting or 
lying together, are found in the hall. The benches upon 



which they sit or lie are of iron. Every consessus has 
a locus in the hall ; and as both these terms, consessus and 
locus, in Saxo united in the expression consessuum loca, 
together mean rows of benches in a theatre or in a public 
place, where the seats rise in rows one above the other, 
we must assume that these rows of the damned sitting or 
lying together are found in different elevations between 
the floor and ceiling. This assumption is corroborated 
by what Saxo tells, viz., that their loca are separated by 
leaden hurdles (plumbece crates). That they are sepa- 
rated by hurdles must have some practical reason, and 
this can be none other than that something flowing down 
may have an unobstructed passage from one consessus to 
the other. That which flows down finally reaches the 
floor, and is then omne sordium genus, all kinds of im- 
purity. It must finally be added that, according to Saxo, 
the stench in this room of torture is well-nigh intolerable 
(super omnia perpetui f&toris asperitas tristes lacessebat 
olfactus) . 

Who is not able to see that Voluspa's and Saxo's de- 
scriptions of the hall in Nastrands confirm, explain, and 
complement each other ? From Voluspa's words, we con- 
clude that the venom-streams come from the openings in 
the roof, not from the walls. The wall consists, in its 
entirety, of the backs of serpents wattled together (sd er 
undinn salr orma hryggjom). The heads belonging to 
these serpents are above the roof, and vomit their venom 
down through the roof-openings "the Ijors" (fellu 
eitrdropar inn um Ijora). Below these, and between 
them and the floor, there are, as we have seen in Saxo, 



rows of iron seats, the one row below the other, all fur- 
nished with leaden hurdles, and on the iron seats sit or 
lie perjurers and murderers, forced to drink the venom 
raining down in "heavy streams." Every such row of 
sinners becomes "a trough of venom" for the row im- 
mediately below it, until the disgusting liquid thus pro- 
duced falls on those who have seduced the dearest and 
most confidential friends of others. These seducers either 
constitute the lowest row of the seated delinquents, or 
they wade on the floor in that filth and venom which there 
flows. Over the hall broods eternal night (it is solu 
fjarri) . What there is of light, illuminating the terrors, 
comes from fires (see below) kindled at the doors which 
open to the north (nordr horfa dyrr). The smoke from 
the fires comes into the hall and covers the door-posts 
with the "soot of ages" (pastes longceva fuligine illitce). 

With this must be compared what Tacitus relates con- 
cerning the views and customs of the Germans in regard 
to crime and punishment. He says : 

"The nature of the crime determines the punishment. 
Traitors and deserters they hang on trees. Cowards and 
those given to disgraceful debauchery they smother in 
filthy pools and marshes, casting a hurdle (crates) over 
them. The dissimilarity in these punishments indicates 
a belief that crime should be punished in such a way that 
the penalty is visible, while scandalous conduct should be 
punished in such a way that the debauchee is removed 
from the light of day" (Germania, xii.). 

This passage in Germania is a commentary on Saxo's 
descriptions, and on the Voluspa strophe in the form re- 



suiting from my investigation. What might naturally 
seem probable is corroborated by Germania's words : that 
the same view of justice and morality, which obtained in 
the camp of the Germans, found its expression, but in 
gigantic exaggeration, in their doctrines concerning escha- 
tological rewards and punishments. It should, perhaps, 
also be remarked that a similar particularism prevailed 
through centuries. The hurdle {crates} which Saxo 
mentions as being placed over the venom- and filth-drink- 
ing criminals in the hall of Nastrands has its earthly coun- 
terpart in the hurdle (also called crates'), which, accord- 
ing to the custom of the age of Tacitus, was thrown over 
victims smothered in the cesspools and marshes (ignavos 
et imbelles et corpore infames cceno ac palude injecta in- 
super crate mergunt). Those who were sentenced to 
this death were, according to Tacitus, cowards and de- 
bauchees. Among those who received a similar punish- 
ment in the Teutonic Gehenna were partly those who in 
a secret manner had committed murder and tried to con- 
ceal their crime (such were called nwrdvorgr}, partly de- 
bauchees who had violated the sacredness of matrimony. 
The descriptions in the Voluspa strophe and in Saxo show 
that also in the hall of the Nastrands the punishment is 
in accordance with the nature of the crime. All are pun- 
ished terribly ; but there is a distinction between those who 
had to drink the serpent venom unmixed and those who 
receive the mixed potion, and finally those who get the 
awful liquid over themselves and doubtless within them- 

In closing this chapter I will quote a number of Voluspa 



strophes, which refer to Teutonic eschatology. In par- 
allel columns I print the strophes as they appear in Codex 
Regius, and in the form they have assumed as the result 
of an investigation of which I shall give a full account in 
the future. I trust it will be found that the restoration 
of a fellr austan um eitrdala into a fellr austr eitrdala, 
and the introducing of these words before thanns annars 
glepr eyraruna not only restores to the strophe in which 
these words occur a regular structure and a sense which is 
corroborated by Saxo's eschatological sources and by the 
Germania of Tacitus, but also supplies the basis and condi- 
tions on which other strophes may get a regular structure 
and intelligible contents. 

Codex Regius. 

A fellr austan 
um eitrdala 
sauxom oc sverthom 
slithr heitir su. 
Stod fyr nordan 
a nitha vollom 
salr or gulli 
sindra ettar. 
enn annar stod 
a okolni 
bior salr iotuns 
en sa brimir heitir. 

Revised Text. 

Stod fyr nordan 
a Nida vollum 
salr or gulli 
Sindra aettar; 
enn annar stod 
a Okolni, 
bjorsals jotuns, 
en sa Brimir heitir. 

Sal sa hon standa 
solo fiarri 
na strondu a 
northr horfa dyrr 

Sal sa hon standa 
solu fjarri 
Nastrondu a, 
nordr horfa dyrr; 



fello eitr dropar 
inn um liora 
sa er undinn salr 
orma hryggiom. 

fellu eitrdropar 
inn um Ijora, 
sa er undinn salr 
orma hryggjum. 

(38) Sa hon thar vada 
thunga strauma 
menn meinsvara 
oc mordvargar. 
oc thann annars glepr 
eyra runo 

thar sug nithhauggr 
nai fram gegna 
sleit vargr vera 
vitoth er en etha hvat. 

Sa hon thar vada 
thunga strauma 
menn meinsvara 
oc mordvarga; 
en a fell austr 

thanns annars glepr 

(35) Hapt sa hon liggia 
undir hvera lundi 
legiarn lici 
loca atheckian. 
thar sitr Sigyn 
theygi um sinom 
ver velglyiod 
vitoth er en etha hvat. 

Hapt sa hon liggja 
undir hveralundi 
Loka athekkjan; 
thar saug Nidhoggr 
nai framgengna, 
sleit vargr vera. 
Vitud er enn eda hvat? 

Thar kna Vala 

vigbond snua, 

heldr varn hardgor 

hopt or 


thar sitr Sigyn 

theygi um sinum 

ver vel glygud. 

Vitud er enn eda hvat? 





Saxo (Hist. Dan., 429 ff.) relates that the experienced 
Captain Thorkil made, at the command of King Gorm, 
a second journey to the uttermost North, in order to com- 
plete the knowledge which was gained on the first jour- 
ney. That part of the lower world where Loke (by 
Saxo called Ugartilocus) dwells had not then been seen. 
iThis now remained to be done. Like the first time, 
Thorkil sailed into that sea on which sun and stars never 
shine, and he kept cruising so long in its darkness that his 
supply of fuel gave out. The expedition was as a con- 
sequence on the point of failing, when a fire was suddenly 
seen in the distance. Thorkil then entered a boat with a 
few of his men and rowed thither. In order to find his 
way back to his ship in the darkness, he had placed in the 
mast-top a self-luminous precious stone, which he had 
taken with him on the journey. Guided by the light, 
Thorkil came to a strand-rock, in which there were nar- 
row "gaps" (fauces), out of which the light came. 
There was also a door, and Thorkil entered, after request- 
ing his men to remain outside. 

Thorkil found a grotto. At the fire which was kindled 
stood two uncommonly tall men, who kept mending the 
fire. The grotto had an inner door or gate, and that 



is ma 

-hment tlH-ri-..y 

'nt that <ln "'led venom up 

1 irn from this tortt 

captivity '1 held a bowl t< 

li other, i i < hAtl 



Saxo (Hist. Dan., 429 ff.) relates that , 
Captain Tborkil made, at the command of K 
to the uttermost North, in ord 

few el if 
way I5al j ; 

<. ;' '", ' 

; found ',>. 



.-rnrjd. ifii' 


-,v < ^d(^i- 

oh he had 
the light, 
were nar- 


after TC 


> kept n^ 
or gate 


which was seen inside that gate is described by Saxo in 
almost the same words as those of his former description 
of the hall at the Nastrands (obsoleti pastes, ater situ 
paries, sordidum tectum, frequens anguibus pavimen- 
twm). Thorkil in reality sees the same hall again; he 
had simply come to it from another side, from the north, 
where the hall has its door opening toward the strand 
(nordr horfa dyrr Voluspa), the pillars of which, ac- 
cording to Saxo's previous description, are covered with 
the soot of ages. The soot is now explained by the fire 
which is kindled in the grotto outside the hall, the grotto 
forming as it were a vestibule. The two gigantic per- 
sons who mend the fire are called by Saxo aquili. 

In Marcianus Capella, who is Saxo's model in regard 
to style and vocabulary, persons of semi-divine rank 
(hemithei) are mentioned who are called aquili, and who 
inhabit the same regions as the souls of the dead (lares 
and larva Marc. Cap., i., ii. Compare P. E. Miiller, 
not, Hist. Dan., pp. 68, 69). Aquilus also has the sig- 
nification, dark, swarthy, Icel. dokkr. 

In the northern mythology a particular kind of elves 
are mentioned black or swarthy elves, dokkdlfar. They 
dwell under the farthest root of the world-tree, near the 
northern gate of the lower world (iormungrundar i iodyr 
nyrdra), and have as their neighbours the Thurses and 
the unhappy dead (ndir Porspjallsljod, 25). Gylfa- 
ginning also (ch. 17) knows of the swarthy elves, at least, 
that they "dwell down in the earth" (bua nidri i jordu). 
As to mythic rank, colour, and abode, they therefore cor- 
respond with the Roman aquili, and Saxo has forcibly 



and very correctly employed this Latin word in order to 
characterise them in an intelligible manner. 

The two swarthy elves keeping watch outside of the 
hall of Nastrands ought naturally to have been aston- 
ished at seeing a living human being entering their grotto. 
Saxo makes them receive the unexpected guest in a 
friendly manner. They greet him, and, when they have 
learned the purpose of his visit, one of them reproaches 
him for the rash boldness of his undertaking, but gives 
him information in regard to the way to Loke, and gives 
him fire and fuel after he had tested Thorkil's under- 
standing, and found him to be a wise man. The jour- 
ney, says the swarthy elf, can be performed in four days' 
fast sailing. As appears from the context, the journey 
is to the east. The traveller then comes to a place where 
not a blade of grass grows, and over which an even denser 
darkness broods. The place includes several terrible 
rocky halls, and in one of them Loke dwells. 

On the fourth day Thorkil, favoured by a good wind, 
comes to the goal of his journey. Through the darkness 
a mass of rock rising from the sea (scopulum musitata 
molis} is with difficulty discerned, and Thorkil lays to by 
this rocky island. He and his men put on clothes of skin 
of a kind that protects against venom, and then walk along 
the beach at the foot of the rock until they find an en- 
trance. Then they kindle a fire with flint stones, this 
being an excellent protection against demons; they light 
torches and crawl in through the narrow opening. Un- 
fortunately Saxo gives but a scanty account of what they 
saw there. First they came to a cave of torture, which 



resembled the hall on the Nastrands, at least, in this par- 
ticular, that there were many serpents and many iron seats 
or iron benches of the kind described above. A brook 
of sluggish water is crossed by wading. Another grotto 
which is not described was passed through, whereupon 
they entered Loke's awful prison. He lay there bound 
hands and feet with immense chains. His hair and beard 
resembled spears of horn, and had a terrible odour. 
Thorkil jerked out a hair of his beard to take with him 
as evidence of what he had seen. As he did this, there 
was diffused in the cave a pestilential stench; and after 
Thorkil's arrival home, it appeared that the beard-hair 
he had taken home was dangerous to life on account of 
its odour (Hist. Dan., 433). When Thorkil and his 
men had passed out of the interior jurisdiction of the rock, 
they were discovered by flying serpents which had their 
home on the island (cp. Voluspa thar saug Nidhoggr, 
&c., No. 77). The skin clothes protected them against 
the venom vomited forth. But one of the men who bared 
his eyes became blind. Another, whose hand came out- 
side of the protecting garments, got it cut off; and a 
third, who ventured to uncover his head, got the latter 
separated from his neck by the poison as by a sharp steel 

The poem or saga which was Saxo's authority for this 
story must have described the rocky island where Loke 
was put in chains as inhabited by many condemned be- 
ings. There are at least three caves of torture, and in 
one of them there are many iron benches. This is con- 
firmed, as we shall see, by Voluspa. 

14 555 


Saxo also says that there was a harbour. From Vol- 
uspa we learn that when Ygdrasil trembles at the ap- 
proach of Ragnarok, the ship of the dead, Nagelfar, lies 
so that the liberated Loke can go aboard it. That it has 
long lain moored in its harbour is evident from the fact 
that, according to Voluspa, it then "becomes loose." Un- 
known hands are its builders. The material out of which 
it is constructed is the nail-parings of dead men (Gylfag., 
51 probably according to some popular tradition). The 
less regard for religion, the less respect for the dead. But 
from each person who is left unburied, or is put into 
his grave without being, when possible, washed, combed, 
cleaned as to hands and feet, and so cared for that his ap- 
pearance may be a favourable evidence to the judges at 
the Thing of the dead in regard to his survivors from 
each such person comes building material for the death- 
ship, which is to carry the hosts of world-destroyers to 
the great conflict. Much building material is accumu- 
lated in the last days in the "dagger-and-axe age," 
when "men no longer respect each other" (Voluspa). 

Nagelfar is the largest of all ships, larger than Skid- 
bladner (Skidbladnir er beztr skipanna . . . en Naglfari 
er mest skip Gylfag., 43). This very fact shows that 
it is to have a large number of persons on board when it 
departs from L,oke's rocky island. Voluspa says: 

Str. 47, 8. Naglfar losnar, Nagelfar becomes loose, 

Str. 48. Kioll ferr austan, a ship comes from the east, 

koma muno Muspellz the hosts of Muspel 

um laug lydir, come o'er the main, 

en Loki styrir; Loke is pilot; 

fara Fifls megir all Fifel's descendants 



med Freka alhr, come with Freke, 

theim er brodir Byleipt's brother 

Byleipts i for. is with them on the journey. 

Here it is expressly stated that "the hosts of Muspel" 
are on board the ship, Nagelfar, guided by Loke, after it 
has been "freed from its moorings" and had set sail from 
the island where Loke and other damned ones were im- 

How can this be harmonised with the doctrine based 
on the authority of Gylfaginning, that the sons of Muspel 
are inhabitants of the southernmost region of light and 
warmth, Gylfaginning's so-called Muspelheim? or with 
the doctrine that Surt is the protector of the borders of 
this realm? or that Muspel's sons proceed under his 
command to the Ragnarok conflict, and that they conse- 
quently must come from the South, which Voluspa also 
seems to corroborate with the words Surtr ferr sunnan 
med smga Icsiif 

The answer is that the one statement cannot be har- 
monised with the other, and the question then arises as to 
which of the two authorities is the authentic one, the 
heathen poem Voluspa or Gylfaginning, produced in the 
thirteenth century by a man who had a vague conception 
of the mythology of our ancestors. Even the most un- 
critical partisan of Gylfaginning would certainly unhes- 
itatingly decide in favour of Voluspa, provided we had 
this poem handed down in its pure form from the heathen 
days. But this is clearly not the case. We therefore 
need a third witness to decide between the two. Such 
an one is also actually to be found. 



In the Norse heathen records the word muspell oc- 
curs only twice, viz., in the above-mentioned Voluspa 
strophe and in Lokasenna, 42, where Frey, who has sur- 
rendered his sword of victory, is threatened by Loke with 
the prospect of defeat and death er Muspellz synir rida 
Myrcmth yfir, "when Muspel's sons ride over Darkwood." 
The Myrkwood is mentioned in Volundarkvida (1) as a 
forest, through which the swan-maids coming from the 
South flew into the wintry Ulfdales, where one chases 
bears on skees (snow-shoes) to get food. This is evi- 
dently not a forest situated near the primeval fountains 
of heat and fire. The very arbitrary manner in which 
the names of the mythical geography is used in the heroic 
poems, where Myrkwood comes to the surface, does not 
indicate that this forest was conceived as situated south 
of Midgard, and there is, as shall be shown below, reason 
for assuming that Darkwood is another name for the 
Ironwood famous in mythology ; the wood which, accord- 
ing to Voluspa, is situated in the East, and in which 
Angerboda fosters the children of Loke and Fenrer. 

One of these, and one of the worst, is the monster 
Hate, the enemy of the moon mentioned in Voluspa as 
tungls tiugari, that makes excursions from the Ironwood 
and "stains the citadels of rulers with blood." In the 
Ragnarok conflict Hate takes part and contends with Tyr 
(Gylfag.), and, doubtless, not only he, but also the whole 
offspring of the Fenris-wolf fostered in the Ironwood, 
are on the battlefield in that division which is commanded 
by Loke their clan-chief. This is also, doubtless, the 
meaning of the following words in the Voluspa strophe 



quoted above : "Fifel's descendants all come with Freke 
(the wolf), and in company with them is Byleipt's (or 
Byleist's) brother." As Loke, Byleipt, and Helblinde 
are mentioned as brothers (Gylfag., 33), no one else can 
be meant with "Byleipt's brother" than Loke himself or 
Helblinde, and more probably the latter, since it has al- 
ready been stated, that Loke is there as the commander 
of the forces. Thus it is Muspel's sons and Loke's kins- 
men in the Ironwood who are gathered around him when 
the great conflict is at hand. Muspel's sons accompany 
the liberated Loke from his rocky isle, and are with him 
on board Nagelfar. Loke's first destination is the Iron- 
wood, whither he goes to fetch Angerboda's children, and 
thence the journey proceeds "over Myrkwood" to the 
plain of Vigrid. The statements of Voluspa and Loka- 
senna illustrate and corroborate each other, and it fol- 
lows that Voluspa's statement, claiming that Muspel's 
sons come from the East, is original and correct. 

Gylfaginning treats Muspel as a place, a realm, the 
original home of fire and heat (Gylfag., 5). Still, there 
is a lack of positiveness, for the land in question is in the 
same work called Muspellsheimr (ch. 5) and Muspells 
heimr (ch. 8), whence we may presume that the author 
regarded Muspell as meaning both the land of the fire 
and the fire itself. The true etymology of Muspell was 
probably as little known in the thirteenth century, when 
Gylfaginning was written, as it is now. I shall not speak 
of the several attempts made at conjecturing the defini- 
tion of the word. They may all be regarded as abortive, 
mainly, doubtless, for the reason that Gylfaginning's 



statements have credulously been assumed as the basis 
of the investigation. As a word inherited from heathen 
times, it occurs under the forms mutspelli and muspilli 
in the Old Saxon poem Heliand and in an Old High Ger- 
man poem on the final judgment, and there it has the 
meaning of the Lord's day, the doom of condemnation, 
or the condemnation. Concerning the meaning which 
the word had among the heathens of the North, before 
the time of the authors of Voluspa and Lokasenna, all 
that can be said with certainty is, that the word in the 
expression "Muspel's sons" has had a special reference to 
mythical beings who are to appear in Ragnarok fighting 
there as Loke's allies, that is, on the side of the evil 
against the good; that these beings were Loke's fellow- 
prisoners on the rocky isle where he was chained; and 
that they accompanied him from there on board Nagelfar 
to war against the gods. As Gylfaginning makes them 
accompany Surt coming from the South, this must be 
the result of a confounding of "Muspel's sons" with 
"Surfs (Suttung's) sons." 

A closer examination ought to have shown that Gyl- 
faginning's conception of "Muspel's sons" is immensely 
at variance with the mythical. Under the influence of 
Christian ideas they are transformed into a sort of angels 
of light, who appear in Ragnarok to contend under the 
command of Surt "to conquer all the idols" (sigra oil 
godin Gylfag. 4) and carry out the punishment of the 
world. While Voluspa makes them come with Loke in 
the ship Nagelfar, that is, from the terrible rocky isle 
in the sea over which eternal darkness broods, and while 



Lokasenna makes them come across the Darkwood, whose 
name does not suggest any region in the realm of light, 
Gylfaginning tells us that they are celestial beings. Idols 
and giants contend with each other on Vigrid's plains; 
then the heavens are suddenly rent in twain, and out of it 
ride in shining squadrons "Muspel's sons" and Surt, with 
his flaming sword, at the head of the fylkings. Gylfagin- 
ning is careful to keep these noble riders far away from 
every contact with that mob which Loke leads to the field 
of battle. It therefore expressly states that they form a 
fylking by themselves (/ thessum gny Klofnar himininn, 
ok ridu thadan Muspells synir; Surtr ridr fyrstr, &c. 
. . . enn Mu-spells synir hafa einir ser fylking, er sd bjort 
mjok ch. 56). Thus they do not come to assist Loke, 
but to put an end to both the idols and the mob of giants. 
The old giant, Surt, who, according to a heathen skald, 
Eyvind Skaldaspiller, dwells in sokkdalir, in mountain 
grottoes deep under the earth (see about him-, No. 89), is 
in Gylfaginning first made the keeper of the borders of 
"Muspelheim," and then the chief of celestial hosts. But 
this is not the end of his promotion. In the text found 
in the Upsala Codex, Gylfaginning makes him lord in 
Gimle, and likewise the king of eternal bliss. After 
Ragnarok it is said, "there are many good abodes and 
many bad;" best it is to be in Gimle with Surt {mar gar 
ero vistar gothar og margar illar, best er at vera, a Gimle 
medr surtr} . The name Surt means black. We find that 
his dark looks did not prevent his promotion, and this has 
been carried to such a point that a mythologist who hon- 
estly believed in Gylfaginning saw in him the Almighty 


who is to come after the regeneration to equalise and har- 
monise all discord, and to found holy laws to prevail for 

Under such circumstances, it may be suggested as a 
rule of critical caution not to accept unconditionally Gyl- 
faginning's statement that the world of light and heat 
which existed before the creation of the world was called 
Muspel or Muspelheim. In all probability, this is a 
result of the author's own reflections. At all events, it is 
certain that no other record has any knowledge of that 
name. But that the mythology presumed the existence of 
such a world follows already from the fact that Urd's 
fountain, which gives the warmth of life to the world- 
tree, must have had its deepest fountain there, just as 
Hvergelmer has its in the world of primeval cold, and 
Mimer has his fountain in that wisdom which unites the 
opposites and makes them work together in a cosmic 

Accordingly, we must distinguish between Muspells 
megir, Muspells synir, from Surt's clan-men, who are 
called Surfs cett, synir Suttunga, Suttungs synir (Skirnis- 
mal, 34; Alvissm., 35). We should also remember that 
Muspell in connection with the words synir and megir 
hardly can mean a land, a realm, a region. The figure 
by which the inhabitants of a country are called its sons or 
descendants never occurs, so far as I know, in the oldest 
Norse literature. 

In regard to the names of the points of the compass 
in the poetic Edda, nordan and austan, it must not be for- 
gotten that the same northern regions in the mythical 



geography to which various events are referred must 
have been regarded by the Icelanders as lying to the east 
from their own northern isle. The Bjarmia ulterior, in 
whose night-shrouded waters mythical adventurers sought 
the gates to the lower world, lay in the uttermost North, 
and might still, from an Icelandic and also from a Nor- 
wegian standpoint, be designated as a land in the East. 
According to the sagas preserved by Saxo, these adven- 
turers sailed into the Arctic Ocean, past the Norwegian 
coast, and eastward to a mythical Bjarmia, more distant 
than the real Bjarmaland. They could thus come to the 
coast where a gate to the lower world was to be found, 
and to the Nastrands, and if they continued this same 
course to the East, they could finally get to the rocky 
isle where Loke lay chained. 

We have seen that Loke is not alone with Sigyn on 
that isle where in chains he abides Ragnarok. There 
were unhappy beings in large numbers with him. As 
already stated, Saxo speaks of three connected caves of 
torture there, and the innermost one is Loke's. Of the 
one nearest to it, Saxo tells nothing else than that one has 
to wade across a brook or river in order to get there. 
Of the bound Fenrer, Loke's son, it is said that from his 
mouth runs froth which forms the river Von (Gylfag., 
34). In Lokasenna (34) Frey says to the abusive Loke: 
"A wolf (that is, Fenrer) I see lying at the mouth of the 
river until the forces of the world come in conflict; if 
you do not hold your tongue, you, villain, will be chained 
next to him" (thin ncest an expression which here should 
be taken in a local sense, as a definite place is mentioned 



in the preceding sentence). And as we learn from 
Voluspa, that Freke (the wolf) is with Loke on board 
Nagelfar, then these evidences go to show that Loke and 
his son are chained in the same place. The isle where 
Fenrer was chained is called in Gylfaginning Lyngvi, and 
the body of water in which the isle is situated is called 
Amsvartmr, a suitable name of the sea, over which eternal 
darkness broods. On the isle, the probably Icelandic au- 
thor of Voluspa (or its translator or compiler) has im- 
agined a "grove," whose trees consist of jets of water 
springing from hot fountains (hvero, lundr). The isle 
is guarded by Garmr, a giant-dog, who is to bark with all 
its might when the chains of Loke and Fenrer threaten 
to burst asunder : 

Geyr Garmr mjok 
fyr Gnipahelli 
Festr man slitna, 
en Freki renna. 

According to Gtrimnersmal, Garm is the foremost of 
all dogs. The dogs which guard the beautiful Menglad's 
citadel are also called Garms (Fjolsvinnsmal). In Gyl- 
faginning, the word is also used in regard to a wolf, Hate 
Manegarm. Gnipahellir means the cave of the precipi- 
tous rock. The adventurers which Thorkil and his men 
encountered with the flying serpents, in connection with 
the watching Hel-dog, show that Lyngve is the scene of 
demons of the same kind as those which are found around 
the Na-gates of Nifelheim. 

Bound hands and feet with the entrails of a "frost- 
cold son" (Lokasenna, 49), which, after being placed on 



his limbs, are transformed into iron chains (Gylfag., 54), 
Eioke lies on a weapon (a hiorvi Lokasenna, 49), and 
under him are three flat stones placed on edge, one under 
his shoulders, one under his loins, and one under his hams 
(Gylfag., 54). Over him Skade, who is to take revenge 
for the murder of her father, suspends a serpent in such a 
manner that the venom drops in the face of the nithing. 
Sigyn, faithful to her wicked husband, sits sorrowing by 
his side (Voluspa) and protects him as well as she is able 
against the venom of the serpent (Postscript to Loka- 
senna, Gylfag., 54). Fenrer is fettered by the soft, silk- 
like chain Gleipner, made by the subterranean artist, and 
brought from the lower world by Hermod. It is the 
only chain that can hold him, and that cannot be broken 
before Ragnarok. His jaws are kept wide open with a 
sword (Gylfag., 35). 



We have yet to mention a place in the lower world 
which is of importance to the naive but, at the same time, 
perspicuous and imaginative cosmology of Teutonic 
heathendom. The myth in regard to the place in ques- 
tion is lost, but it has left scattered traces and marks, 
with the aid of which it is possible to restore its chief 

Poems, from the heathen time, speak of two wonderful 
mills, a larger and a smaller "Grotte"-mill. 



The larger one is simply immense. The storms and 
showers which lash the sides of the mountains and cause 
their disintegration ; the breakers of the sea which attack 
the rocks on the strands, make them hollow, and cast the 
substance thus scooped out along the coast in the form 
of sand-banks; the whirlpools and currents of the ocean, 
and the still more powerful forces that were fancied by 
antiquity, and which smouldered the more brittle layers 
of the earth's solid crust, and scattered them as sand and 
mould over "the stones of the hall," in order that the 
ground might "be overgrown with green herbs" all this 
was symbolised by the larger Grotte-mill. And as all 
symbols, in the same manner as the lightning which be- 
comes Thor's hammer, in the mythology become epic- 
pragmatic realities, so this symbol becomes to the imagin- 
ation a real mill, which operates deep down in the sea and 
causes the phenomena which it symbolises. 

This greater mill was also called Grcedir, since its grist 
is the mould in which vegetation grows. This name was 
gradually transferred by the poets of the Christian age 
from the mill, which was grinding beneath the sea, to 
the sea itself. 

The lesser Grotte-mill is like the greater one of heathen 
origin Egil Skallagrimson mentions it but it plays a 
more accidental part, and really belongs to the heroic 
poems connected with the mythology. Meanwhile, it is 
akin to the greater. Its stones come from the lower 
world, and were cast up thence for amusement by young 
giant-maids to the surface of the earth. A being called 
Hengikjoptr (the feminine Hengikepta is the name of a 



giantess Sn. Edda, i. 551; ii. 471) makes mill-stones 
put of these subterranean rocks, and presents the mill to 
King Frode Fridleifson. Fate brings about that the same 
young giantesses, having gone to Svithiod to help the 
king warring there, Guthorm (see Nos. 38, 39), are taken 
prisoners and sold as slaves to King Frode, who makes 
them turn his Grotte-mill, the stones of which they recog- 
nise from their childhood. The giantesses, whose names 
are Fenja and Menja, grind on the mill gold and safety 
for King Frode, and good-will among men for his king- 
dom. But when Frode, hardened by greed for gold, re- 
fuses them the necessary rest from their toils, they grind 
fire and death upon him, and give the mill so great speed 
that the mill-stone breaks into pieces, and the foundation 
is crushed under its weight. 

After the introduction of Christianity, the details of 
the myth concerning the greater, the cosmological mill, 
were forgotten, and there remained only the memory of 
the existence of such a mill on the bottom of the sea. 
The recollection of the lesser Grotte-mill was, on the 
other hand, at least in part preserved as to its details in a 
song which continued to flourish, and which was re- 
corded in Skaldskaparmal. 

Both mills were now regarded as identical, and there 
sprang up a tradition which explained how they could 
be so. 

Contrary to the statements of the song, the tradition 
narrates that the mill did not break into pieces, but stood 
whole and perfect, when the curse of the giant-maids on 
Frode was fulfilled. The night following tfie day when 



they had begun to grind misfortune on Prode, there came 
a sea-king, Mysing, and slew Frode, and took, among 
other booty, also the Grotte-mill and both the female 
slaves, and carried them on board his ship. Mysing 
commanded them to grind salt, and this they continued 
to do until the following midnight. Then they asked if 
he had not got enough, but he commanded them to con- 
tinue grinding, and so they did until the ship shortly af- 
terwards sank. In this manner the tradition explained 
how the mill came to stand on the bottom of the sea, and 
there the mill that had belonged to Frode acquired the 
qualities which originally had belonged to the vast Grotte- 
mill of the mythology. Skaldskaparmal, which relates 
this tradition as well as the song, without taking any 
notice of the discrepancies between them, adds that after 
Frode's mill had sunk, "there was produced a whirlpool 
in the sea, caused by the waters running through the hole 
in the mill-stone, and from that time the sea is salt." 

THE WORLD-MILL (continued}. 

With distinct consciousness of its symbolic signifi- 
cation, the greater mill is mentioned in a strophe by the 
skald Snsebjorn (Skaldskap., ch. 25). The strophe ap- 
pears to have belonged to a poem describing a voyage. 
"It is said," we read in this strophe, "that Eyludr's nine 
women violently turn the Grotte of the skerry dangerous 
to man out near the edge of the earth, and that these 
women long ground Amlode's /z 



Hvat kveda hrsera Grotta 
hergrimmastan skerja 
ut fyrir jardar skauti 
Eyludrs niu brudir: 
thaer er . . fyrir laungu 
lid-meld . 

Amloda molu. 

To the epithet Eyludr, and to the meaning of lid-in 
lid-grist, I shall return below. The strophe says that the 
mill is in motion out on the edge of the earth, that nine 
giant-maids turn it (for the lesser Grotte-mill two were 
more than sufficient), that they had long ground with it, 
that it belongs to a skerry very dangerous to seafaring 
men, and that it produces a peculiar grist. 

The same mill is suggested by an episode in Saxo, 
where he relates the saga about the Danish prince, 
Amlethus, who on account of circumstances in his home 
was compelled to pretend to be insane. Young courtiers, 
who accompanied him on a walk along the sea-strand, 
showed him a sand-bank and said that it was meal. The 
prince said he knew this to be so : he said it was "meal 
from the mill of the storms" (Hist. Dan., 141). 

The myth concerning the cosmic Grotte-mill was in- 
timately connected partly with the myth concerning the 
fate of Ymer and the other primeval giants, and partly 
with that concerning Hvergelmer's fountain. Vafthrud- 
nersmal (21) and Grimnersmal (40) tell us that the earth 
was made out of Ymer's flesh, the rocks out of his bones, 
and the sea from his blood. With earth is here meant, 
as distinguished from rocks, the mould, the sand, which 



cover the solid ground. Vafthrudnersmal calls Ymer 
Aurgelmir, Claygelmer or Moldgelmer ; and Fjolsvinns- 
mal gives him the epithet Leirbrimir, Claybrimer, which 
suggests that his "flesh" was changed into the loose earth, 
while his bones became rocks. Ymer's descendants, the 
primeval giants, Thrudgelmer and Bergelmer perished 
with him, and the "flesh" of their bodies cast into the 
primeval sea also became mould. Of this we are as- 
sured, so far as Bergelmer is concerned, by strophe 35 in 
Vafthrudnersmal, which also informs us that Bergelmer 
was laid under the mill-stone. The mill which ground 
his "flesh" into mould can be none other than the one 
grinding under the sea, that is, the cosmic Grotte-mill. 

When Odin asks the wise giant Vafthrudner how far 
back he can remember, and which is the oldest event of 
which he has any knowledge from personal experience, 
the giant answers: "Countless ages ere the earth was 
shapen Bergelmer was born. The first thing I remem- 
ber is when he a var ludr um lagidr." 

This expression was misunderstood by the author of 
Gylfaginning himself, and the misunderstanding has con- 
tinued to develop into the theory that Bergelmer was 
changed into a sort of Noah, who with his household 
saved himself in an ark when Bur's sons drowned the 
primeval giants in the blood of their progenitor. Of 
such a counterpart to the Biblical account of Noah and 
his ark our Teutonic mythical fragments have no knowl- 
edge whatever. 

The word ludr (with radical r) has two meanings: 
(1) a wind-instrument, a loor, a war-trumpet; (2) the 



tier of beams, the underlying timbers of a mill, and, in 
a wider sense, the mill itself. 

The first meaning, that of war-trumpet, is not found 
in the songs of the Elder Edda, and upon the whole does 
not occur in the Old Norse poetry. Heimdal's war- 
trumpet is not called ludr, but horn or hljod. Ludr in 
this sense makes its first appearance in the sagas of Chris- 
tian times, but is never used by the skalds. In spite of 
this fact the signification may date back to heathen times. 
But however this may be, ludr in Vafthrudnersmal does 
not mean a war-trumpet. The poem can never have 
meant that Bergelmer was laid on a musical instrument. 

The other meaning remains to be discussed. Ludr, 
partly in its more limited sense of the timbers or beams 
under the mill, partly in the sense of the subterranean 
mill in its entirety, and the place where it is found, occurs 
several times in the poems: in the Grotte-song, in Helge 
Hund. (ii. 2), and in the above-quoted strophe by Snse- 
bjorn, and also in Grogalder and in Fjolsvinnsmal. If 
this signification is applied to the passage in Vafthrud- 
nersmal : a var ludr um lagidr, we get the meaning that 
Bergelmer was "laid on a mill," and in fact no other 
meaning of the passage is possible, unless an entirely new 
signification is to be arbitrarily invented. 

But however conspicuous this signification is, and how- 
ever clear it is that it is the only one applicable in this 
poem, still it has been overlooked or thrust aside by the 
mythologists, and for this Gylfaginning is to blame. So 
fas as I know, Vigfusson is the only one who (in his 
Dictionary, p. 399) makes the passage a ludr lagidr mean 

is i 


what it actually means, and he remarks that the words 
must "refer to some ancient lost myth." 

The confusion begins, as stated, in Gylfaginning. Its 
author has had no other authority for his statement than 
the Vafthrudnersmal strophe in question, which he also, 
cites to corroborate his own words ; and we have here one 
of the many examples found in Gylfaginning showing 
that its author has neglected to pay much attention to 
what the passages quoted contain. When Gylfaginning 
has stated that the frost-giants were drowned in Ymer's 
blood, then comes its interpretation of the Vafthrudners- 
mal strophe, which is as follows: "One escaped with 
his household: him the giants call Bergelmer. He with 
his wife betook himself upon his ludr and remained there, 
and from them the races of giants are descended" (nemo, 
einn komst undan med sinu hyski: thann kalla jotnar 
Bergelmi; hann for upp a ludr sinn ok kona hans, ok 
helzt thar, ok eru- af theim komnar} , &c. 

What Gylfaginning's author has conceived by the ludr 
which he mentions it is difficult to say. That he did not 
have a boat in mind is in the meantime evident from the 
expression : hann for upp a ludr sinn. It is more reason- 
able to suppose that his idea was, that Bergelmer him- 
self owned an immense mill, upon whose high timbers 
he and his household climbed to save themselves from 
the flood. That the original text says that Bergelmer was 
laid on the timbers of the mill Gylfaginning pays no at- 
tention to. To go upon something and to be laid on some- 
thing are, however, very different notions. 

An argument in favour of the wrong interpretation 



was furnished by the Resenian edition of the Younger 
Edda (Copenhagen, 1665). There we find the expres- 
sion for upp d ludr sinn "amended" to for a bat sinn. 
Thus Bergelmer faad secured a boat to sail in ; and al- 
though more reliable editions of the Younger Edda 
have ' been published since from which the boat 
disappeared, still the mythologists have not had the 
heart to take the boat away from Bergelmer. On the 
contrary, they have allowed the boat to grow into a ship, 
an ark. 

As already pointed out, Vafthrudnersmal tells us ex- 
pressly that Bergelmer, Aurgelmer's grandson, was "laid 
on a mill" or "on the supporting timbers of a mill." 
We may be sure that the myth would not have laid Ber- 
gelmer on "a mill" if the intention was not that he was to 
be ground. The kind of meal thus produced has already 
been explained. It is the mould and sand which the sea 
since time's earliest dawn has cast upon the shores of 
Midgard, and with which the bays and strands have been 
filled, to become sooner or later green fields. From 
Ymer's flesh the gods created the oldest layer of soil, that 
which covered the earth the .first time the sun shone 
thereon, and in which the first herbs grew. Ever since 
the same activity which then took place still continues. 
After the great mill of the gods transformed the oldest 
frost-giant into the dust of earth, it has continued to 
grind the bodies of his descendants between the same 
stones into the same kind of mould. This is the meaning 
of Vafthrudner's words when he says that his memory 
reaches back to the time when Bergelmer was laid on 



the mill to be ground. Ymer he does not remember, nor 
Thrudgelmer, nor the days when these were changed to 
earth. Of them he knows only by hearsay. But he re- 
members when the turn came from Bergelmer's limbs to 
be subjected to the same fate. 

"The glorious Midgard" could not be created before 
its foundations raised by the gods out of the sea were 
changed to bjod (Voluspa). This is the word (origin- 
ally bjodr) with which the author of Voluspa chose to 
express the quality of the fields and the fields themselves, 
which were raised out of the sea by Bor's sons, when the 
great mill had changed the "flesh" of Ymer into mould. 
Bjod does not mean a bare field or ground, but one that 
can supply food. Thus it is used in Haustlaung (af 
breidu bjodi, the place for a spread feast Skaldskapar- 
mal, ch. 22), and its other meanings (perhaps the more 
original ones) are that of a board and of a table for food 
to lie on. When the fields were raised out of Ymer's 
blood they were covered with mould, so that, when they 
got light and warmth from the sun, then the grund be- 
came groin grosnum lauki. The very word mould comes 
from the Teutonic word mala, to grind (cp. Eng. meal, 
Latin molere). * The development of language and the 
development of mythology have here, as in so many oth- 
er instances, gone hand in hand. 

That the "flesh" of the primeval giants could be ground 
into fertile mould refers us to the primeval cow Aud- 
humbla by whose milk Ymer was nourished and his flesh 
formed (Gylfaginning). Thus the cow in the Teutonic 
mythology is the same as she is in the Iranian, the pri- 



meval source of fertility. The mould, out of which the 
harvests grow, has by transformations developed out of 
her nourishing liquids. 

Here, then, we have the explanation of the lidmeldr 
which the great mill grinds, according to Snaebjorn. 
Lidmeldr means limb-grist. It is the limbs and joints 
of the primeval giants, which on Amlode's mill are trans- 
formed into meal. 

In its character as an institution for the promotion of 
fertility, and for rendering the fields fit for habitation, 
the mill is under the care and protection of the Vans. 
After Njord's son, Frey, had been fostered in Asgard 
and had acquired the dignity of lord of the harvests, he 
was the one who became the master of the great Grotte. 
It is attended on his behalf by one of his servants, who 
in the mythology is called Byggvir, a name related both 
to byggja, settle, cultivate, and to bygg, barley, a kind of 
grain, and by his kinswoman and helpmate Beyla. So 
important is the calling of Bygver and Beyla that they 
are permitted to attend the feasts of the gods with their 
master (Frey). Consequently they are present at the 
banquet to which JEgir, according to Lokasenna, in- 
vited the gods. When Loke uninvited made his appear- 
ance there to mix harm in the mead of the gods, and to 
embitter their pleasure, and when he there taunts Frey, 
Bygver becomes wroth on his master's behalf and says : 

Str. 43. Veiztu, ef ec othli ettac Had I the ancestry 
sem Ingunar-Freyr of Ingunar Frey 
oc sva saelict setr, and so honoured a seat, 

mergi smaera maul know I would grind you 
tha ec 



tha meincraco finer than marrow, you evil 

oc lemtha alia i litho. and crush you limb by limb. 

Loke answers: 

Str. 44. Hvat er that ith litla What little boy is that 

er ec that lauggra sec whom I see wag his tail 

oc snapvist snapir; and eat like a parasite? 

att eyrom Freys Near Prey's ears 

mundu ae vera always you are 

oc und kvernom klaka. and clatter 'neath the mill-stone. 


Str. 45. Beyggvir ec heiti, Bygver is my name, 

enn mic brathan kveda All gods and men 
god aull oc gumar: call me the nimble, 
thvi em ec her hrodugr, and here it is my pride, 
at drecca Hroptz megir that Odin's sons each 
allir aul saman. and all drink ale. 


Str. 46. thegi thu, Beyggvir! Be silent, Bygver! 

thu kunnir aldregi Ne'er were you able 

deila meth monnom food to divide among men. 

Beyla, too, gets her share of Loke's abuse. The least 
disgraceful thing he says of her is that she is a deigia 
(a slave, who has to work at the mill and in the kitchen), 
and that she is covered with traces of her occupation in 
dust and dirt. 

As we see, Loke characterises Bygver as a servant 
taking charge of the mill under Frey, and Bygver char- 
acterises himself as one who grinds, and is able to crush 
an "evil crow" limb by limb with his mill-stones. As 



the one who with his mill makes vegetation, and so also 
bread and malt, possible, he boasts of it as his honour 
that the gods are able to drink ale at a banquet. Loke 
blames him because he is not able to divide the food 
among men. The reproach implies that the distribution 
of food is in his hands. The mould which comes from 
the great mill gives different degrees of fertility to differ- 
ent fields, and rewards abundantly or niggardly the toil 
of the farmer. Loke doubtless alludes to this unequal 
distribution, else it would be impossible to find any sense 
in his words. 

In the poetic Edda we still have another reminiscence 
of the great mill which is located under the sea, and at 
the same time in the lower world (see below), and which 
"grinds mould into food." It is in a poem, whose skald 
says that he has seen it on his journey in the lower world. 
In his description of the "home of torture" in Hades, 
Solarljod's Christian author has taken all his materials 
from the heathen mythological conceptions of the worlds 
of punishment, though the author treats these materials 
in accordance with the Christian purpose of his song. 
When the skald dies, he enters the Hades gates, crosses 
bloody streams, sits for nine days a norna stoli, is there- 
upon seated on a horse, and is permitted to make a jour- 
ney through Mimer's domain, first to the regions of the 
happy and then to those of the damned. In Mimer's 
realm he sees the "stag of the sun" and Nide's (Mimer's) 
sons, who "quaff the pure mead from Baugregin's well." 
When he approached the borders of the world of the 
damned, he heard a terrible din, which silenced the winds 



and stopped the flow of the waters. The mighty din 
came from a mill. Its stones were wet with blood, but 
the grist produced was mould, which was to be food. 
Fickle-wise (svipvisar, heathen) women of dark complex- 
ion turned the mill. Their bloody and tortured hearts 
hung outside of their breasts. The mould which they 
ground was to feed their husbands. 

This mill, situated at the entrance of hell, is here rep- 
resented as one of the agents of torture in the lower 
world. To a certain extent this is correct even from a 
heathen standpoint. It was the lot of slave-women to 
turn the hand-mill. In the heroic poem the giant-maids 
Fenja and Menja, taken prisoners and made slaves, have 
to turn Frode's Grotte. In the mythology "Eylud's nine 
women," thurse-maids, were compelled to keep this vast 
mechanism in motion, and that this was regarded as a 
heavy and compulsory task may be assumed without the 
risk of being mistaken. 

According to Solarljod, the mill-stones are stained 
with blood. In the mythology they crush the bodies of 
the first giants and revolve in Ymer's blood. It is also in 
perfect harmony with the mythology that the meal be- 
comes mould, and that the mould serves as food. But 
the cosmic signification is obliterated in Solarljod, and it 
seems to be the author's idea that men who have died 
in their heathen belief are to eat the mould which women 
who have died in heathendom industriously grind as food 
for them 

The myth about the greater Grotte, as already indi- 
cated, has also been connected with the Hvergelmer 



myth. Solarljod has correctly stated the location of the 
mill on the border of the realm of torture. The mytho- 
logy has located Hvergelmer's fountain there (see No. 
59) ; and as this vast fountain is the mother of the ocean 
and of all waters, and the ever open connection between 
the waters of heaven, of the earth, and of the lower 
world, then this furnishes the explanation of the appar- 
ently conflicting statements, that the mill is situated 
both in the lower world and at the same time on the bot- 
tom of the sea. Of the mill it is said that it is danger- 
ous to men, dangerous to fleets and to crews, and that it 
causes the maelstrom (svelgr) when the water of the 
ocean rushes down through the eye of the mill-stone. 
The same was said of Hvergelmer, that causes ebb and 
flood and maelstrom, when the water of the world al- 
ternately flows into and out of this great source. To 
judge from all this, the mill has been conceived as so 
made that its foundation timbers stood on solid ground in 
the lower world, and thence rose up into the sea, in which 
the stones resting on this substructure were located. The 
revolving "eye" of the mill-stone was directly above 
Hvergelmer, and served as the channel through which 
the water flowed to and from the great fountain of the 
world's waters. 



But the colossal mill in the ocean has also served other 



purposes than that of grinding the nourishing mould 
from the limbs of the primeval giants. 

The Teutons, like all people of antiquity, and like most 
men of the present time, regarded the earth as stationary. 
And so, too, the lower world (jormurgrundr For- 
spjallsljod) on which the foundations of the earth rested. 
Stationary was also that heaven in which the Asas had 
their citadels, surrounded by a common wall, for the As- 
gard-bridge, Bi frost, had a solid bridge-head on the 
southern and another on the northern edge of the lower 
world, and could not change position in its relation to 
them. All this part of creation was held together by the 
immovable roots 'of the world-tree, or rested on its invis- 
ible branches. Sol and Mane had their fixed paths, the 
points of departure and arrival of which were the "horse- 
doors" (jodyrr}, which were hung on the eastern and 
western mountain-walls of the lower world. The god 
Mane and the goddess Sol were thought to traverse these 
paths in shining chariots, and their daily journeys across 
the heavens did not to our ancestors imply that any part 
of the world-structure itself was in motion. Mane's 
course lay below Asgard. When Thor in his thunder- 
chariot descends to Jotunheim the path of Mane thun- 
ders under him (en dundi Mdna vegr und Meila brodur 
Haustl., 1). No definite statement in our mythical 
records informs us whether the way of the sun was over 
or under Asgard. 

But high above Asgard is the starry vault of heaven, 
and to the Teutons as well as to other people that sky was 
not only an optical but a real vault, which daily revolved 



around a stationary point. Sol and Mane might be con- 
ceived as traversing their appointed courses independ- 
ently, and not as coming in contact with vaults, which by 
their motions from east to west produced the progress of 
sun and moon. The very circumstance that they con- 
tinually changed position in their relation to each other 
and to the stars seemed to prove that they proceeded in- 
dependently in their own courses. With the countless 
stars the case was different. They always keep at the 
same distance and always present the same figures on 
the canopy of the nocturnal heavens. They looked like 
glistening heads of nails driven into a movable ceiling. 
Hence the starlit sky was thought to be in motion. The 
sailors and shepherds of the Teutons very well knew that 
this revolving was round a fixed point, the polar star, and 
it is probable that verddar nagli, the world-nail, the world- 
spike, an expression preserved in Eddubrott, ii., designates 
the north star. 

Thus the starry sky was the movable part of the uni- 
verse. And this motion is not of the same kind as that 
of the winds, whose coming and direction no man can 
predict or calculate. The motion of the starry firmament 
is defined, always the same, always in the same direction, 
and keeps equal step with the march of time itself. It 
does not, therefore, depend on the accidental pleasure of 
gods or other powers. On the other hand, it seems to be 
caused by a mechanism operating evenly and regularly. 

The mill was for a long time the only kind of mechan- 
ism on a large scale known to the Teutons. Its motion 
was a rotating one. The movable mill-stone was turned 


by a handle or sweep which was called mondull. The 
mill-stones and the mondull might be conceived as large 
as you please. Fancy knew no other limits than those of 
the universe. 

There was another natural phenomenon, which also 
was regular, and which was well known to the seamen 
of the North and to those Teutons who lived on the 
shores of the North Sea, namely, the rising and falling 
of the tide. Did one and the same force produce both 
these great phenomena? Did the same cause produce 
the motion of the starry vault and the ebb and flood of 
the sea? In regard to the latter phenomenon, we al- 
ready know the naive explanation given in the myth con- 
cerning Hvergelmer and the Grotte-mill. And the same 
explanation sufficed for the former. There was no need 
of another mechanism to make the heavens revolve, as 
there was already one at hand, the influence of which 
could be traced throughout that ocean in which Midgard 
was simply an isle, and which around this island ex- 
tends its surface even to the brink of heaven (Gylfagin- 

The mythology knew a person by name Mundilfori 
(Vafthr., 23; Gylfag.). The word mundill is related to 
mondull, and is presumably only another form of the 
same word. The name or epithet Mundilfore refers to 
a being that has had something to do with a great myth- 
ical mondull and with the movements of the mechanism 
which this mondull kept in motion. Now the word 
mondull is never used in the old Norse literature about 
any other object than the sweep or handle with which 



the movable mill-stone is turned. (In this sense the 
word occurs in the Grotte-song and in Helge Hund. 
ii., 3, 4). Thus Mundilfore has had some part to play 
in regard to the great giant-mill of the ocean and of the 
lower world. 

Of Mundilfore we learn, on the other hand, that he 
is the father of the personal Sol and the personal Mane 
(Valfthr. 23). This, again, shows that the mythology 
conceived him as intimately associated with the heavens 
and with the heavenly bodies. Vigfusson (Diet., 437) 
has, therefore, with good reason remarked that mundill 
in Mundilfore refers to the veering round or the revolu- 
tion of the heavens. As the father of Sol and Mane, 
Mundilfore was a being of divine rank, and as such be- 
longed to the powers of the lower world, where Sol and 
Mane have their abodes and resting-places. The latter 
part of the name, fori, refers to the verb fcera, to conduct, 
to move. Thus he is that power who has to take charge 
of the revolutions of the starry vault of heaven, and these 
must be produced by the great mondull, the mill-handle 
or mill-sweep, since he is called Mundilfori. 

The regular motion of the starry firmament and of the 
sea is, accordingly, produced by the same vast mechan- 
ism, the Grotte-mill, the meginverk of the heathen fancy 
(Grotte-song, 11; cp. Egil Skallagrimson's way of us- 
ing the word, Arnibj.-Drapa, 26). The handle extends 
to the edge of the world, and the nine giantesses, who are 
compelled to turn the mill, pushing the sweep before 
them, march along the outer edge of the universe. Thus 
we get an intelligible idea of what Snsebjorn means when 



he says that Eylud's nine women turn the Grotte "along 
the edge of the earth" (hrcera Grotta at fyrir jardar 

Mundilfore and Bygver thus each has his task to per- 
form in connection with the same vast machinery. The 
one attends to the regular motion of the mondull, the 
other looks after the mill-stones and the grist. 

In the name Eylud the first part is ey, and the second 
part is ludr. The name means the "island-mill." Eylud's 
nine women are the "nine women of the island-mill." 
The mill is in the same strophe called skerja Grotti, the 
Grotte of the skerry. These expressions refer to each 
other and designate with different words the same idea 
the mill that grinds islands and skerries. 

The fate which, according to the Grotte-song, hap- 
pened to King Frode's mill has its origin in the myth 
concerning the greater mill. The stooping position of 
the starry heavens and the sloping path of the stars in 
relation to the horizontal line was a problem which in 
its way the mythology wanted to solve. The phenome- 
non was put in connection with the mythic traditions in 
regard to the terrible winter which visited the earth after 
the gods and the sons of Alvalde (Ivalde) had become 
enemies. Fenja and Menja were kinswomen of Al- 
valde's sons. For they were brothers (half-brothers) of 
those mountain giants who were Fenja's and Menja's 
fathers (the Grotte-song). Before the feud broke out 
between their kin and the gods, both the giant-maids had 
worked in the service of the latter and for the good of 
the world, grinding the blessings of the golden age on 



the world-mill. Their activity in connection with the 
great mechanism, mondul, which they pushed, amid the 
singing of bliss-bringing songs of sorcery, was a counter- 
part of the activity of the sons of Alvalde, who made for 
the gods the treasures of vegetation. When the con- 
flict broke out the giant-maids joined the cause of their 
kinsmen. They gave the world-mill so rapid a motion 
that the foundations of the earth trembled, pieces of the 
mill-stones were broken loose and thrown up into space, 
and the sub-structure of the mill was damaged. This 
could not happen without harm to the starry canopy of 
heaven which rested thereon. The memory of this 
mythic event comes to the surface in Rimbegla, which 
states that toward the close of King Frode's reign there 
arose a terrible disorder in nature a storm with mighty 
thundering passed over the country, the earth quaked 
and cast up large stones. In the Grotte-song the same 
event is mentioned as a "game" played by Fenja and 
Menja, in which they cast up from the deep upon the 
earth those stones which afterwards became the mill- 
stones in the Grotte-mill. After that "game" the giant- 
maids betook themselves to the earth and took part in 
the first world-war on the side hostile to Odin (see No. 
39). It is worthy of notice that the mythology has con- 
nected the fimbul-winter and the great emigrations from 
the North with an earthquake and a damage to the world- 
mill which makes the starry heavens revolve. 





Among the tasks to be performed by the world-mill 
there is yet another of the greatest importance. Ac- 
cording to a belief which originated in ancient Aryan 
times, a fire is to be judged as to purity and holiness by 
its origin. There are different kinds of fire more or less 
pure and holy, and a fire which is holy as to its origin 
may become corrupted by contact with improper ele- 
ments. The purest fire, that which was originally kin- 
dled by the gods and was afterwards given to man as an 
invaluable blessing, as a bond of union between the higher 
world and mankind, was a fire which was produced by 
rubbing two objects together (friction). In hundreds 
of passages this is corroborated in Rigveda, and the be- 
lief still exists among the common people of various Teu- 
tonic peoples. The great mill which revolves the starry 
heavens was also the mighty rubbing machine (friction 
machine) from which the sacred fire naturally ought to 
proceed, and really was regarded as having proceeded, 
as shall be shown below. 

The word mondull, with which the handle of the mill 
is designated, is found among our ancient Aryan ances- 
tors. It can be traced back to the ancient Teutonic man- 
ihula, a swing-tree (Kick, Worterb d. ind.-germ. Spr., 



i\i. 232), related to Sanscr. Manthati, to swing, twist, 
bore, from the root month, which occurs in numerous 
passages in Rigveda, and in its direct application always 
refers to the production of fire by friction (Bergaigne, 
Rel. ved., iii. 7). 

In Rigveda, the sacred fire is personified by the "pure," 
"upright," "benevolent" god Agni, whose very name, 
related to the Latin ignis, designates the god of fire. Ac- 
cording to Rigveda, there was a time when Agni lived 
concealed from both gods and men, as the element of 
light and warmth found in all beings and things. Then 
there was a time when he dwelt in person among the 
gods, but not yet among men; and, finally, there was a 
time when Mataricvan, a sacred being and Agni's father 
in a literal or symbolic sense, brought it about that Agni 
came to our fathers (Rigv., i. 60, 1). The generation 
of men then living was the race of Bhriguians, so-called 
after an ancient patriarch Bhrigu. This Bhrigu, and with 
him Manu (Manus), was the first person who, in his sac- 
rifices to the gods, used the fire obtained through Agni 
(Rigv., i. 31, 17, and other passages). 

When, at the instigation of Mataricvan, Agni arrived 
among mankind, he came from a far-off region (Rigv., 
i. 128, 2). The Bhriguians who did not yet possess the 
fire, but were longing for it and were seeking for it 
(Rigv., x. 40, 2), found the newly-arrived Agni, "at 
the confluence of the waters." In a direct sense, "the 
confluence of the waters" cannot mean anything else than 
the ocean, into which all waters flow. Thus Agni came 
from the distance across a sea to the coast of the country 

16 587 


where that people dwelt who were named after the pa- 
triarch Bhrigu. When they met this messenger of the 
gods (Rigv., viii. 19, 21), they adopted him and cared 
for him at "the place of the water" (Rigv., ii. 4, 2). 
Mataricvan, by whose directions Agni, "the one born on 
the other side of the atmosphere" (x. 187, 5) was brought 
to mankind, becomes in the classical Sanscrit language 
a designation for the wind. Thus everything tends to 
show that Agni has traversed a wide ocean, and has been 
brought by the wind when he arrives at the coast where 
the Bhriguians dwell. He is very young, and hence bears 
the epithet yavishtha. 

We are now to see why the gods sent him to men, and 
what he does among them. He remains among those 
who care for him, and dwells among them "an immortal 
among mortals" (Rigv., viii. 60, 11; iii. 5, 3), a guest 
among men, a companion of mortals (iv. 1, 9). He who 
came with the inestimable gift of fire long remains per- 
sonally among men, in order that "a wise one among 
the ignorant" may educate them. He who "knows all 
wisdom and all sciences" (Rigv., iii. 1, 17; x. 21, 5) 
"came to be asked questions" (i. 60, 20) by men; he 
teaches them and "they listen to him as to a father" (i. 
68, 9). He becomes their first patriarch (ii. 10, 1) and 
their first priest (v. 9, 4; x. 80, 4). Before that time 
they had lived a nomadic life, but he taught them to es- 
tablish fixed homes around the hearths, on which the 
fire he had brought now was burning (iii. 1, 17). He 
visited them in these fixed dwellings (iv. 1, 19), where 
the Bhriguians now let the fire blaze (x. 122, 5) ; he 



became "the husband of wives" (i. 66, 4) and the pro- 
genitor of human descendants (i. 96, 2), through whom 
he is the founder of the classes or "races" of men (vi. 
48, 8). He established order in all human affairs (iv. 
1, 2), taught religion, instructed men in praying and sac- 
rificing (vi. 1, 1, and many other passages), initiated 
them in the art of poetry and gave them inspiration (iii. 
10, 5; x. 11, 6). 

This is related of Agni when he came to the earth and 
dwelt among men. As to his divine nature, he is the 
pure, white god (iv. 1, 7; iii. 7, 1), young, strong, and 
shining with golden teeth (v. 2, 2), and searching eyes 
(iv. 2, 12) which can see far (vii. 1, 1), penetrate the 
darkness of night (i. 94, 7), and watch the acts of de- 
mons (x. 87, 12). He, the guard of order (i. 11, 8), is 
always attentive (i. 31, 12), and protects the world by 
day and by night from dangers (i. 98, 1). On a circular 
path he observes all things (vii. 13, 3), and sees and 
knows them all (x: 187, 4). He perceives everything, 
being able to penetrate the herbs, and diffuse himself into 
plants and animals (vii. 9, 3; viii. 43, 9; x. 1, 2). He 
hears all who pray to him, and can make himself heard 
as if he had the voice of thunder, so that both the halves 
of the world re-echo his voice (x. 8, 1). His horses 
are like himself white (vi. 6, 4). His symbol among 
the animals is the bull (i. 31, 5; i. 146, 2). 

In regard to Agni's birth, it is characteristic of him 
that he is said to have several mothers, although their 
number varies according to the point from which the 
process of birth is regarded. When it is only to be a 



figurative expression for the origin of the friction-fire, 
the singer of the hymn can say that Agni had ten moth- 
ers or two mothers. In the case of the former, it is the 
ten fingers of the person producing the friction-fire that 
are meant. Sometimes this is stated outright (Rigveda, 
iii. 23, 3) ; then again the fingers are paraphrased by 
"the twice five sisters dwelling together" (iv. 6, 8), "the 
work-master's ten untiring maids" (i. 95, 1). In the 
case of the latter that is, when two mothers are men- 
tioned the two pieces of wood rubbed together are 
meant (viii. 49, 15). In a more real sense he is said 
to have three places of nativity: one in the atmospheric 
sea, one in heaven, and one in the waters (i. 95, 3), and 
that his "great, wise, divine nature proceeded from the 
laps of many active mothers" (i. 95, 4), such as the 
waters, the stones, the trees, the herbs (ii. 1,1). In 
Rigveda (x. 45, 2) nine maternal wombs or births are 
indicated; his "triple powers were sown in triplets in 
heaven, among us, and in the waters." In Rigveda (i. 
141, 2) three places of nativity and three births are as- 
cribed to him, and in such a way that he had seven 
mothers in his second birth. In Rigveda (x. 20, 7) he 
is called the son of the rock. 

It scarcely needs to be pointed out that all that is here 
told about Agni corresponds point by point with the Teu- 
tonic myth about Heimdal. Here, as in many other in- 
stances, we find a similarity between the Teutonic and 
the Aryan- Asiatic myths, which is surprising, when we 
consider that the difference between the Rigveda and 
Zend languages on the one hand, and the oldest Teu- 



tonic linguistic monuments on the other, appear in con- 
nection with other circumstances to indicate that the old 
Aryan unity of language and religion lies ages back in 
antiquity. Agni's birth "beyond the atmosphere," his 
journey across the sea to original man in the savage 
state, his vocation as the sower of the blessings of cul- 
ture among men, his appearance as the teacher of wisdom 
and "the sciences," his visit to the farms established by 
him, where he becomes "the husband of wives," father 
of human sons, and the founder of "the races" (the 
classes among the Teutons), all this we rediscover com- 
pletely in the Heimdal myth, as if it were a copy of the 
Aryan-Asiatic saga concerning the divine founder of 
culture; a copy fresh from the master's brush without 
the effects of time, and without any retouching. The 
very names of the ancient Aryan patriarchs, Bhrigu and 
Manu are recognisable in the Teutonic patriarch names 
Berchter and Mann (Mannus-Halfdan). In the case 
of Manu and Mann no explanation is necessary. Here 
the identity of sound agrees with the identity of origin. 
The descendants of Bhrigu and of his contemporary 
Bhriguians, are called Bhargavans, which corroborates 
the conclusion that Bhrigu is derived from bharg "to 
shine," whence is derived the ancient Teutonic berhta, 
"bright," "clear," "light," the Old Saxon berht, the 
Anglo-Saxon beorht, which reoccurs in the Teutonic 
patriarch Berchter, which again is actually (not linguis- 
tically) identical with the Norse Borgarr. By Bhrigu's 
side stands Manu, just as Mann (Half dan) is co-ordi- 
nate with Borgar. 


Point by point the descriptions of Agni and Heimdal 
also correspond in regard to their divine natures and at- 
tributes. Agni is the great holy white god; Heimdal 
is mikill and heilagr, and is called hviti ass (Younger 
Edda) or "the whitest of the Asas" (Thrymskv., 15). 
While Agni as the fire-god has golden teeth, Heimdal 
certainly for the same reason bears the epithet gullin- 
tanni, "the one with the golden teeth." Agni has white 
horses. In Ulf Uggeson's poem about the work of art 
in Hjardarholt, Heimdal rides his horse Gulltoppr, whose 
name reflects its splendour. While Agni's searching 
eyes can see in the distance and can penetrate the gloom of 
night, it is said of Heimdal that hann ser jafnt nott sem 
dag hundrad rasta fro, ser. While Agni perceives every- 
thing, even the inaudible motions in the growing of herbs 
and animals; while he penetrates and diffuses himself in 
plants and animals, it is said of Heimdal that he heyrir 
ok that, er gras vex a jordu eda ull a saudum. While 
Agni it is not stated by what means is able to produce 
a noise like thunder which re-echoes through both the 
world-halves, Heimdal has the horn, whose sound all 
the world shall hear, when Ragnarok is at hand. On a 
"circular path," Agni observes the beings in the world. 
Heimdal looks out upon the world from Bi frost. Agni 
keeps his eye on the deeds of the demons, is perpetually 
on the look-out, and protects the world by day and by 
night from dangers; Heimdal is the watchman of the 
gods vbrdr goda (Grimnersmal), needs in his vocation 
as watchman less sleep than a bird, and faithfully guards 
the Asa-bridge against the giants. Agni is born of sev- 



eral mothers; Heimdal has mothers nine. Agni is "the 
fast traveller," who, in the human abodes he visits, opens 
a way for prayer and sacrifice (Rigv., vii. 13, 3) ; in 
Rigsmal, Heimdal has the same epithet, "the fast trav- 
eller," roskr Stigcmdi, as he goes from house to house 
and teaches men the "runes of eternity" and "the runes 
of time." 

The only discrepancy is in the animal symbols by which 
Angi and Heimdal are designated. The bull is Agni's 
symbol, the ram is Heimdal's. Both symbols are chosen 
from the domestic animals armed with horns, and the dif- 
fernce is linguistically of such a kind, that it to some ex- 
tent may be said to corroborate the evidence in regard to 
Agni's and Heimdals identity. In the old Norse poetry, 
Vedr (wether, ram), Heimdali and the Heimdal epithet 
Hallinskidi, are synonymous. The word vedr, accord- 
ing to Fick (Worterb., iii. 307), can be traced to an an- 
cient Teutonic vethru, the real meaning of which is 
"yearling," a young domestic animal in general, and it 
is related to the Latin vitulus and the Sanscrit vatsala, 
"calf." If this is correct, then we also see the lines along 
which one originally common symbol of a domestic animal 
developed into two and among the Rigveda Aryans set- 
tled on the "yearling" of the cow, and among the Teu- 
tons on that of the sheep. It should here be remarked 
that according to Ammianus Marcellinus (xix. 1) the 
tiara of the Persian kings was ornamented with a golden 
ram's-head. That Agni's span of horses were trans- 
formed into Heimdal's riding horse was also a result of 
time and circumstances. In Rigveda, riding and cav- 



airy are unknown ; there the horses of the gods draw the 
divine chariots. In the Teutonic mythology the draught 
horses are changed into riding horses, and chariots occur 
only exceptionally. 

We have reason to be surprised at finding that the 
Aryan-Asiatic myths and the Teutonic have so broad sur- 
faces of contact, on which not only the main outlines but 
even the details completely resemble each other. But 
the fact is not inexplicable. The hymns, the songs of 
the divine worship and of the sacrifices of the Rigveda 
Aryans, have been preserved, but the epic-mythological 
poems are lost, so that there remains the difficult task of 
reconstructing out of the former a clear and concise my- 
thology, freed from "dissolving views" in which their 
mythic characters now blend into each other. The Teu- 
tonic mythology has had an opposite fate : here the gen- 
uine religious songs, the hymns of divine worship and of 
sacrifices, are lost, and there remain fragments of the 
mighty divine epic of the Teutons. But thus we have 
also been robbed of the opportunity of studying those very 
songs which in a higher degree than the epic are able to 
preserve through countless centuries ancient mythical 
traits ; for the hymns belong to the divine worship, pop- 
ular customs are long-lived, and the sacred customs are 
more conservative and more enduring than all others, if 
they are not disturbed by revolutions in the domain of 
faith. If an epithet of a god, e. g., "the fast traveller," 
has once become fixed by hymns and been repeated in the 
divine service year after year, then, in spite of the grad- 
ual transformation of the languages and the types of 



the race, it may be preserved through hundreds and thou- 
sands of years. Details of this kind may in this manner 
survive the ravages of time just as well as the great out- 
lines of the mythology, and if there be a gradual change 
as to signification, then this is caused by the change of 
language, which may make an old expression unintelligi- 
ble or give it another meaning based on the association 
of ideas. 

From all this I am forced to draw the conclusion that 
Heimdal, like several other Teutonic gods for example, 
Odin' (Wbdan, Rigveda's Vata) belongs to the ancient 
Aryan age, and retained, even to the decay of the Teu- 
tonic heathendom his ancient character as the personal 
representative of the sacred fire, the fire produced by fric- 
tion, and, in this connection, as the representative of the 
oldest culture connected with the introduction of fire. 

This also explains Heimdal's epithet Vindler, in Cod. 
Reg. of the Younger Edda (i. 266, 608). The name is 
a subform of vindill and comes from vinda, to twist or 
turn, wind, to turn anything around rapidly. As the 
epithet "the turner" is given to that god who brought 
friction-fire (bore-fire) to man, and who is himself the 
personification of this fire, then it must be synonymous 
with "the borer." 

A synonym of Heimdal's epithet Stigandi, "the trav- 
eller," is Rati, "the traveller," from rata, "to travel," "to 
move about." Very strangely, this verb (originally vrata, 
Goth, vraton, to travel, make a journey) can be traced to 
an ancient Teutonic word which meant to turn or twist, 
or something of the sort (Pick, Worterb., iii. 294). 




And, so far as the noun Rati is concerned, this significa- 
tion has continued to flourish in the domain of mythology 
after it long seems to have been extinct in the domain of 
language. Havamal (106), Grimnersmal (32), and 
Bragarsedur testify each in its own way that the mythical 
name Rati was connected with a boring activity. In 
Havamal "Rate's mouth" gnaws the tunnel through 
which Odin, in the guise of an eagle, flies away with the 
mead-treasure concealed in the "deep dales" at Fjalar's 
under the roots of the world-tree. In the allegorical 
Grimnersmal strophe it is "Rate's tooth" (Ratatoskr) 
who lets the mead-drinking foe of the gods near the root 
of the world-tree find out what the eagle in the top of the 
world-tree (Odin) resolves and carries out in regard to 
the same treasure. In Bragaraedur the name is given 
to the gimlet itself which produced the connection be- 
tween Odin's world and Fjalar's halls. The gimlet has 
here received the name of the boring "traveller," of him 
who is furnished with "golden teeth." Hence there are 
good reasons for assuming that in the epic of the myth 
it was Heimdal-Gullintanne himself whose fire-gimlet 
helped Odin to fly away with his precious booty. In 
Rigveda Agni plays the same part. The "tongue of 
Agni" has the same task there as "Rate's mouth" in our 
Norse records. The sacred mead of the liquids of nour- 
ishment was concealed in the womb of the mountain with 
the Dasyus, hostile to the world ; but Agni split the moun- 
tain open with his tongue, his ray of light penetrated into 
the darkness where the liquids of nourishment were pre- 
served, and through him they were brought to the light 



of day, after Trita (in some passages of Rigveda iden- 
tical with Vata) had slain a giant monster and found 
the "cows of the son of the work-master" (cp. Rigveda, 
v. 14, 4; viii. 61, 4-8 ; x. 8, 6-9). "The cows of the son 
of the work-master" is a paraphrase for the saps of nour- 
ishment. In the Teutonic mythology there is also "a son 
of the work-master," who is robbed of the mead. Fjalar 
is a son of Surt, whose character as, an ancient artist is 
evident from what is stated in Nos. 53 and 89. 

By friction Mataricvan brought Agni out of the mater- 
nal wombs in which he was concealed as an embryo of 
light and warmth. Heimdal was born to life in a similar 
manner. His very place of nativity indicates this. His 
mothers have their abodes vid jardar thraum (Hyndl., 
35) near the edge of the earth, on the outer rim of the 
earth, and that is where they gave him life bdru thann 
man vid jardar thraum). His mothers are giantesses 
(iotna meyjar), and nine in number. We have already 
found giantesses, nine in number, mentioned as having 
their activity on the outer edge of the earth namely, 
those who with the mondull, the handle, turn the vast 
friction-mechanism, the world^m}!! of Mundilfore. They 
are the niu brudir of Eyludr, "the Isle-grinder" mentioned 
by Snsebjorn (see above). These nine giant-maids, who 
along the outer zone of the earth (fyrir jordar skauti) 
push the mill's sweep before themselves and grind the 
coasts of the islands, are the same nine giant-maids who 
on the outer zone of the earth gave birth to Heimdal, the 
god of the friction-fire. Hence one of Heimdal's moth- 
ers is in Hyndluljod called Angeyja, "she who makes the 



islands closer," and another one is called Eyrgjafa, "she 
who gives sandbanks." Mundilfori, who is the father 
of Sol and Mane, and has the care of the motions of the 
starry heavens is accordingly also, though in another 
sense, the father of Heimdal the pure, holy fire to whom 
the glittering objects in the skies must naturally be re- 
garded as akin. 

In Hyndluljod (37) Heimdal's nine giant-mothers are 
named : Gjdlp, Grelp, Eistla, Eyrgjafa, U If run, Angeyja, 
Imdr, Atla, Jarnsaxa. The first two are daughters of the 
fire-giant Geirrod (Younger Edda, i. 288). To fire refers 
also Imdr, from im, embers. Two of the names, Angeyja 
and Hyrgjafa, as already shown, indicate the occupation 
of these giantesses in connection with the world-mill. 
This is presumably also the case with Jarnsaxa, "she who 
crushes the iron." The iron which our heathen fathers 
worked was produced from the sea- and swamp-iron 
mixed with sand and clay, and could therefore properly 
be regarded as a grist of the world-mill. 

Heimdal's antithesis in all respects, and therefore also 
his constant opponent in the mythological epic, is Loke, 
he too a fire-being, but representing another side of this 
element. Natural agents such as fire, water, wind, cold, 
heat, and thunder have in the Teutonic mythology a 
double aspect. When they work in harmony, each within 
the limits which are fixed by the welfare of the world and 
the happiness of man, then they are sacred forces and 
are represented by the gods. But when these limits are 
transgressed, giants are at work, and the turbulent ele- 
ments are represented by beings of giant-race. This is 



also true of thunder, although it is the common view 
among mythologists that it was regarded exclusively as 
a product of Thor's activity. The genuine mythical con- 
ception was, however, that the thunder which purifies the 
atmosphere and fertilises the thirsty earth with showers 
of rain, or strikes down the foes of Midgard, came from 
Thor; while that which splinters the sacred trees, sets 
fire to the woods and houses, and kills men that have not 
offended the gods, came from the foes of the world. The 
blaze-element (see No. 35) was not only in the posses- 
sion of the gods, but also in that of the giants (Skirners- 
mal), and the lightning did not proceed alone from 
Mjolner, but was also found in Hrungner's hein and in 
Geirrod's glowing javelin. The conflicts between Thor 
and the giants were not only on terra firma, as when Thor 
made an expedition on foot to Jotunheim, but also in 
the air. There were giant-horses that were able to wade 
with force and speed through the atmosphere, as, for in- 
stance, Hrungner's Gullfaxi (Younger Edda, i. 270), 
and these giant-horses with their shining manes, doubt- 
less, were expected to carry their riders to the lightning- 
conflict ih space against the ligntning-hurler, Thor. The 
thunder-storm was frequently a vig thrimu, a conflict be- 
tween thundering beings, in which the lightnings hurled 
by the ward of Midgard, the son of Hlodyn, crossed the 
lightnings hurled by the foes of Midgard. 

Loke and his brothers Helblindi and Byl-eistr are the 
children of a giant of this kind, of a giant representing 
the hurricane and thunder. The rain-torrents and wa- 
terspouts of the Hurricane, which directly or indirectly 



became wedded to the sea through the swollen streams, 
gave birth to Helblinde, who, accordingly, received Ran 
as his "maid" (Yngl., 51). The whirlwind in the hur- 
ricane received as his ward Byleistr, whose name is com- 
posed of bylr, "whirlwind," and eistr, "the one dwelling 
in the east" (the north), a paraphrase for "giant." A 
thunderbolt from the hurricane gave birth to Loke. His 
father is called Farbauti, "the one inflicting harm," and 
his mother is Laufey, "the leaf-isle," a paraphrase for the 
tree-crown (Younger Edda, 104, 268). Thus Loke is 
the son of the burning and destructive lightning, the son 
of him who particularly inflicts damaging blows on the 
sacred oaks (see No. 36) and sets fire to the groves. 
But the violence of the father does not appear externally 
in the son's character. He long prepares the conflagra- 
tion of the world in secret, and not until he is put in chains 
does he exhibit, by the earthquakes he produces, the wild 
passion of his giant nature. As a fire-being, he was con- 
ceived as handsome and youthful. From an ethical point 
of view, the impurity of the flame which he represents 
is manifested by his unrestrained sensuousness. After 
he had been for ever exiled from the society of the gods 
and had been fettered in his cave of torture, his exterior, 
which was in the beginning beautiful, became trans- 
formed into an expression of his intrinsic wickedness, 
and his hair grew out in the form of horny spears (see 
above). In this too he reveals himself as a counterpart 
of Heimdal, whose helmet is ornamented with a glitter- 
ing ram's horn. 




The position which we have found Mundilfore to oc- 
cupy indicates that, although not belonging to the pow- 
ers dwelling in Asgard, he is one of the chief gods of the 
Teutonic mythology. All natural phenomena, which ap- 
pear to depend on a fixed mechanical law and not on the 
initiative of any mighty will momentarily influencing the 
events of the world, seem to have been referred to his 
care. The mythology of the Teutons, like that of the 
Rigveda-Aryans, has had gods of both kinds gods who 
particularly represent that order in the physical and moral 
world which became fixed in creation, and which, under 
normal conditions, remain entirely uniform, and gods who 
particularly represent the powerful temporary interfer- 
ence for the purpose of restoring this order when it has 
been disturbed, and for the purpose of giving protection 
and defence to their worshippers in times of trouble and 
danger. The latter are in their very nature war-gods 
always ready for battle, such ^s Vita and Indra in Rig- 
veda, Odin and Thor-Indride in the Eddas ; and they have 
their proper abode in a group of fortified celestial cita- 
dels like Asgard, whence they have their out-look upon 
the world they have to protect the atmosphere and Mid- 
gard. The former, on the other hand, have their natural 
abode in Jormungrund's outer zone and in the lower 
world, whence the world-tree grew, and where the foun- 
tains are found whose liquids penetrate creation, and 
where that wisdom had its source of which Odin only, 



by self-sacrifice, secured a part. Down there dwell, ac- 
cordingly, Urd and Mimer, Nat and Dag, Mundilfore 
with the discs of the sun and the moon, Delling, the 
genius of the glow of dawn, and Billing, the genius of 
the blushing sunset. There dwell the smiths of antiquity 
who made the chariots of the sun and moon and smithied 
the treasures of vegetation. There dwell the nidjar who 
represent the moon's waxing and waning ; there the seven 
sons of Mimer who represent the changing seasons (see 
No. 87). Mundilfore is the lord of the regular revolu- 
tions of the starry firmament, and of the regular rising 
and sinking of the sea in its ebb and flood. He is the 
father of the discs of the sun and moon, who make their 
celestial journeys according to established laws; and, 
finally, he is the origin of the holy fire; he is father of 
Heimdal, who introduced among men a systematic life 
in homes fixed and governed by laws. As the father of 
Heimdal, the Vana-god, Mundilfore is himself a Vana- 
god, belonging to the oldest branch of this race, and in 
all probability one of those "wise rulers" who, accord- 
ing to Vafthrudnersmal, "created Njord in Vanaheim 
and sent him as a hostage to the gods (the Asas)." 

Whence came the clans of the Vans and the Elves? 
It should not have escaped the notice of the mythologists 
that the Teutonic theogony, as far as it is known, men- 
tions only two progenitors of the mythological races 
Ymer and Bure. From Ymer develop the two very dif- 
ferent races of giants, the offspring of his arms and that 
of his feet (see No. 86) in other words, the noble race 
to which the norns Mimer and Beistla belong, and the 



ignoble, which begins with Thrudgelmer. Sure gives 
birth to Burr (Bor), and the latter has three sons Odinn, 
Vei (Ve}, and Vili (Vilir). Unless Bure had more sons, 
the Van- and Elf-clans have no other theogonic source 
than the same as the Asa-clan, namely, Burr. That the 
hierologists of the Teutonic mythology did not leave the 
origin of these clans unexplained we are assured by the 
very existence of a Teutonic theogony, together with the 
circumstance that the more thoroughly our mythology 
is studied the more clearly we see that this mythology has 
desired to answer every question which could reasonably 
be asked of it, and in the course of ages it developed 
into a systematic and epic whole with clear outlines 
sharply drawn in all details. To this must be added the 
important observation that Vei and Vili, though brothers 
of Odin, are never counted among the Asas proper, and 
had no abode in Asgard. It is manifest that Odin him- 
self with his sons founds the Asa-race, that, in other 
words, he is a clan-founder in which this race has its 
chieftain, and that his brothers', for this very reason, 
could not be included in his clan. There is every reason 
to assume that they, like him, were clan-founders; and as 
we find besides the Asa-clan two other races of gods, this 
of itself makes it probable that Odin's two brothers were 
their progenitors and clan-chieftains. 

Odin's brothers, like himself, had many names. When 
Voluspa says that Odin, in the creation of man, was as- 
sisted by Honer and Loder, and when the Younger 
Edda (i. 52) says that, on this occasion, he was attended 
by his brothers, who just before (i. 46) are called Ve 

17 603 


and Vile, then these are only different names of the same 
powers. Honer and Loder are Ve and Vile. It is a 
mistake to believe that Odin's brothers were mythical 
ghosts without characteristic qualities, and without promi- 
nent parts in the mythological events after the creation 
of the world and of man, in which we know they took 
an active part (Voluspa, 4, 16, 17). The assumption 
that this was the case depends simply upon the fact that 
they have not been found mentioned among the Asas, and 
that our records, when not investigated with proper thor- 
oughness, and when the mythological synonymies have 
not been carefully examined, seem to have so little to say 
concerning them. 

Danish genealogies, Saxo's included, which desire to 
go further back in the genealogy of the Skjoldungs than 
to Skjold, the eponym of the race, mention before him a 
King Lotherus. There is no doubt that Lotherus, like 
his descendants, Skjold, Half dan, and Hadding, is taken 
from the mythology. But in our mythic records there is 
only one name of which Lotherus can be a Latinised form, 
and this name is, as Miiller (Nota ulterior ad Saxonis 
Hist.} has already pointed out, Lodurr. 

It has above been demonstrated (see Nos. 20, 21, 22) 
that the anthropomorphous Vana-god Heimdal was by 
Vana-gods sent as a child to the primeval Teutonic -coun- 
try, to give to the descendants of Ask and Embla the holy 
fire, tools, and implements, the runes, the laws of society, 
and the rules for religious worship. It has been demon- 
strated that, as an anthropomorphous god and first pa- 
triarch, he is identical with Scef-Rig, the Scyld of the 



Beowulf poem, that he becomes the father of the other 
original patriarch Skjold, and the grandfather of Half- 
dan. It has likewise been demonstrated (No. 82) that 
Heimdal, the personified sacred fire, is the son of the 
fire-producer (by friction) Mundilfore, in the same man- 
ner as Agni is the son of Matarigvan. From all this it 
follows that when the authors of mythic genealogies re- 
lated as history wish to get further back in the Skjoldung 
genealogy than to the Beowulf Skjold, that is to say, fur- 
ther back than to the original patriarch Heimdal, then 
they must go to that mythic person who is Heimdal's 
father, that is to say, to Mundilfore, the fire-producer. 
Mundilfore is the one who appears in the Latinised name 
Lotherus. In other words, Mundilfore, the fire-pro- 
ducer, is Lodurr. For the name Lodurr there is no other 
rational explanation than that which Jacob Grimm, with- 
out knowing his position in the epic of mythology, has 
given, comparing the name with the verb lodern, "to 
blaze." Lodurr is active in its signification, "he who 
causes or produces the blaze," and thus refers to the ori- 
gin of fire, particularly of the friction-fire and of the bore- 

Further on (Nos. 90, 91, 92, 121, 123) I shall give an 
account of the ward of the atmosphere, Gevarr (Nokkvi, 
Nafr} , and demonstrate that he is identical with Mundil- 
fore, the revolver of the starry firmament. All that 
Saxo tells about Lotherus is explained by the character 
of the latter as the chieftain of a Vana-clan, and by his 
identity with Mundilfori-Gevarr. As a chieftain of the 
Vans he was their leader when the war broke out between 



the Asas on the one side, and the Vans and Elves on the 
other. The banishment of Odin and the Asas by the 
Vans causes Saxo to say that Lotherus banished from 
the realm persons who were his equals in noble birth 
(nobilitate pares}, and whom he regarded as competitors 
in regard to the government. It is also stated that he took 
the power from an elder brother, but spared his life, al- 
though he robbed him of the sceptre. The brother here 
referred to is not, however, Odin, but Hanir ( Vei). The 
character of the one deposed is gentle and without any 
greed for rule like that by which Honer is known. Saxo 
says of him that he so patiently bore the injustice done 
him that he seemed to be pleased therewith as with a 
kindness received (cetemm injuries tarn patiens fuit, ut 
honoris damno tanquam beneficio gratulari crederetur). 
The reason why Honer, at the outbreak of the war with 
the Asas, is deposed from his dignity as the ruler of Vana- 
heim and is succeeded by Loder, is explained by the fact 
that he, like Mimer, remained devoted to the cause of 
Odin. In spite of the confused manner in which the 
troubles between the Asas and Vans are presented in 
Heimskringla, it still appears that, before the war be- 
tween the Asas and Vans, Honer was the chief of the lat- 
ter on account of an old agreement between the two god- 
clans; that he then always submitted to the counsels of 
the wise Mimer, Odin's friend; that Mimer lost his life 
in the service of Odin, and that the Vans sent his head 
to Odin; and, finally, that, at the outbreak of the feud 
with the Asas and after the death of Mimer, they looked 
upon Honer as unqualified to be their judge and leader. 



Thus Loder becomes after Honer the ruler of Vanaheim 
and the chieftain of the Vans, while the Vans Njord, 
Frey, and the Elf Ull, who had already been adopted in 
Asgard, administer the affairs of the rest of the world. 
To the mythical circumstance, that Honer lost his throne 
and his power points also Voluspa, the poem restoring 
to the gentle and patient Vana-god, after the regenera- 
tion, the rights of which he had been robbed, thd knd 
Hanir hlautvid kjosa (str. 60). "Then Honer becomes 
able to choose the lot-wood," that is to say, he is permitted 
to determine and indicate the fortunes of those con- 
sulting the oracle; in other words, then he is again able 
to exercise the rights of a god. In the Eddas, Honer 
appears as Odin's companion on excursions from Asgard. 
Skaldskaparmal, which does not seem to be aware that 
Honer was Odin's brother, still is conscious that he was 
intimately connected with him and calls him his sessi, 
sinni, and mail (Younger Edda, i. 66). During the 
war between Asas and Vans, Frigg espoused the cause 
of the Vans (see No. 36) ; hence Loke's insulting words 
to her (Lokasenna, 26), and/ the tradition in Heim- 
skringla (Yngl., 3), that Vifir and Vei took Frigg to 
themselves once when Odin was far away from Asgard. 

Saxo makes Lotherus fall at the hands of conspira- 
tors. The explanation of this statement is to be sought 
in Mundilfori-Gevarr's fate, of which, see Nos. 91, 123. 

Mundilfore's character seems at least in one respect 
to be the opposite of Honer's. Gylfaginning speaks of 
his ofdrambi, his pride, founded, according to this record, 
on the beauty of his children. Saxo mentions the in- 



solentia of Lotherus, and one of his surnames was Dulsi, 
the proud. See No. 89, where a strophe is quoted, in 
which the founder of the Swedish Skilfing race (the 
Ynglings) is called Dulsa knor, Dulse's descendant. As 
was shown above in the account of the myth about Scef, 
the Skjoldings, too, are Skilfings. Both these branches 
of the race have a common origin ; and as the genealogy 
of the Skjoldungs can be traced back to Heimdal, and be- 
yond him to Mundilfore, it must be this personality who 
is mentioned for his ofdrambi, that bears the surname 

With Odin, Vei-Honer and ViU-Lodurr-MundU- 
fori have participated in the shaping of the world as well 
as in the creation of man. Of the part they took in the 
latter act, and of the importance they thereby acquired in 
the mythical anthropology, and especially in the concep- 
tions concerning the continued creation of man by gener- 
ation and birth, see No. 95. 



It has already been shown above that Nat, the mother 
of the gods, has her hall in the northern part of Mimer's 
realm, below the southern slopes of the Nida mountains. 

There has been, and still is, an interpretation of the 
myths as symbols. Light is regarded as the symbol of 
moral goodness, and darkness as that of moral evil. That 
there is something psychologically correct in this cannot 
be denied; but in regard to the Aryan religions the as- 



sumption would lead to a great error, if, as we might 
be tempted to do, we should make night identical with 
darkness, and should refer her to the world of evil. In 
the mythologies of the Rigveda-Aryans and of the Teu- 
tons, Nat is an awe-inspiring, adorable, noble, and bene- 
ficent being. Night is said in Rigveda "to have a fair 
face, to increase riches, and to be one of the mothers of 
order." None of the phenemena of nature seemed to the 
Teutons evil per se; only when they transgressed what 
was thought to be their lawful limits, and thus produced 
injury and harm, were giant-powers believed to be active 
therein. Although the Teutonic gods are in a constant, 
more or less violent conflict with the powers of frost, 
still winter, when it observes its limits of time, is not an 
evil but a good divinity, and the cold liquids of Hvergel- 
mer mixed with those of Urd's and Mimer's fountains 
are necessary to the world-tree. Still less could night be 
referred to the domain of demons. Mother Nat never 
transgresses the borders of her power; she never defies 
the sacred laws, which are established for the order of 
the universe. According to the/ seasons of the year, she 
divides in an unvarying manner the twenty-four hours 
between herself and day. Work and rest must alternate 
with each other. Rich in blessing, night comes with 
solace to the weary, and seeks if possible to sooth the 
sufferer with a potion of slumber. Though sombre in 
appearance (Gylfy., 10), still she is the friend of light. 
She decorates herself with lunar effulgence and with 
starry splendour, with winning twilight in midsummer, 
and with the light of snow and of northern aurora in the 



winter. The following lines in Sigrdrifumal (str., 3, 4) 
sound like a reverberation from the lost liturgic hymns 
of our heathendom. 

Heill Dagr, Hail Dag, 

heilir Dags synir, Hail Dag's sons, 

heil Nott ok Nipt! Hail Nat and Nipt! 

Oreithom augom Look down upon us 

litith ocr thinig With benevolent eyes 

oc gefit sitiondom regr! And give victory to the sitting! 

Heilir sesir, Hail Asas, 

heilar asynjor, Hail Asynjes, 

heil sia in fiolnyta fold! Hail bounteous earth! 

Of the Germans in the first century after Christ, Tac- 
itus writes (Gerrn^., 3) : "They do not, as we, compute 
time by days but by nights, night seems to lead the day" 
(nee dierum numerum, ut nos, sed noctium computant: 
nox ducere diem iridetur). This was applicable to the 
Scandinavians as far down as a thousand years later. 
Time was computed by nights not by days, and in the 
phrases from heathen times, nott ok dagr, nott med degi 
badi um noztr ok um daga, night is named before day. 
Linguistic usage and mythology are here intimately as- 
sociated with each other. According to Vafthrudners- 
mal (25) and Gylfaginning (10), Nat bore with Belling 
the son Dag, with whom she divided the administration 
of the twenty-four hours. Delling is the elf of the morn- 
ing red (see No. 35). The symbolism of nature is here 
distinct as in all theogonies. 

Through other divinities, Naglfari and Onarr (Anarr, 
'Aunarr}, Nat is the mother with the former of Unnr 
(Udr), also called Audr, with the latter of the goddess 



Jord, Odin's wife. Unnr means water, Audr means rich. 
It has above been shown that Unnr-Audr is identical with 
Njord, the lord of wealth and commerce, who in the lat- 
ter capacity became the protector of navigators, and to 
whom sacrifices were offered for a prosperous voyage. 
Gods of all clans Asas, Vans, and Elves are thus akin 
to Nat, and are descended from her. 



Nat herself is the daughter of a being whose name has 
many forms. 

Naurr, Norr (dative Naurvi, Norvi, Nott var Naurvi 
borin Vafthrudnersmal, 25 ; Nott. Naurvi 
kenda Alvism., 29). 

Narfi, Narvi (niderfi Narfa Egil Skallagr., 56, 2 ; Gyl- 
fag., 10). 

Norvi, Norvi (Gylfag., 10 ; kund Norm Forspjallsl., 7). 

Njorfi, Nj'drvi (Gylfag., 10; Wjorva nipt Sonatorr.). 

Nori (Gylfag., 10). 

Nan (Hofudl., 10). 

Neri (HelgeHund., 1). 

All these variations are derived from the same original 
appellation, related to the Old Norse verb njorva, the 
Old English nearwian meaning "the one that binds," "the 
one who puts on tight-fitting bonds." 



Simply the circumstance that Narvi is Nat's father 
proves that he must have occupied one of the most con- 
spicuous positions in the Teutonic cosmogony. In all 
cosmogonies and theogonies night is one of the oldest 
beings, older than light, without which it cannot be con- 
ceived. Light is kindled in the darkness, thus forebod- 
ing an important epoch in the development of the world 
out of chaos. The being which is night's father must 
therefore be counted among the oldest in the cosmogony. 
The personified representatives of water and earth, like 
the day, are the children of his daughter. 

What Gylfaginning tells of Narve is that he was of 
giant birth, and the first one who inhabited Jotunheim 
(Norm eda Narfi het jotun, er bygdi fyrst Jotunkeima 
Gylfag., 10). In regard to this we must remember that, 
in Gylfaginning and in the traditions of the Icelandic 
sagas, the lower world is embraced in the term Jotunheim, 
and this for mythical reasons, since Nifelheim is inhab- 
ited by rimthurses and giants (see No. 60), and since 
the regions of bliss are governed by Mimer and by the 
norns, who also are of giant descent. As the father of 
the lower-world dis, Nat, Narve himself belongs to that 
group of powers, with which the mythology peopled 
the lower world. The upper Jothunheim did not exist 
before in a later epoch of the cosmogonic development. 
It was created simultaneously with Midgard by Odin and 
his brothers (Gylfaginning). 

In a strophe by Egil Skallagrimson (ch. 56), poetry, 
or the source of poetry, is called niderfi Narfa, "the inher- 
itance left by Narve to his descendants." As is well 



known, Mimer's fountain is the source of poetry. The 
expression indicates that the first inhabitant of the lower 
world, Narve, also presided over the precious fountain 
of wisdom and inspiration, and that he died and left it to 
his descendants as an inheritance. 

Finally, we learn that Narve was a near kinsman to 
Urd and her sisters. This appears from the following 
passages : 

(a) Helge Hundingsbane (1, 3, ff.). When Helge 
was born norns came in the night to the abode of his 
parents, twisted the threads of his fate, stretched them 
from east to west, and fastened them beneath the hall of 
the moon. One of the threads nipt Nera cast to the north 
and bade it hold for ever. It is manifest that by Nere's 
(Narve's) kinswoman is meant one of the norns present. 

(&) Senator r. (str. 24). The skald Egil Skalla- 
grimson, weary of life, closes his poem by saying that he 
sees the dis of death standing on the ness (Digraness) 
near the grave-mound which conceals the dust of his 
father and of his sons, and is soon to receive him : 

Tveggja baga The kinswoman of Njorve (the 

/ binder) 

Njorva nipt of Odin's (Tvegge's) foes 

a nesi stendr. stands on the ness. 

Skal ek tho gladr Then shall I be glad, 

med godan vilja with a good will, 

ok uhryggr and without remorse, 

Heljar bida. wait for Hel. 

It goes without saying that the skald means a dis of 
death, Urd or one of her messengers, with the words, 
"The kinswoman of Njorve (the binder) of Odin's foes," 



whom he with the eye of presentiment sees standing on 
the family grave-mound on Digraness. She is not to 
stop there, but she is to continue her way to his hall, to 
bring him to the grave-mound. He awaits her coming 
with gladness, and as the last line shows, she whose ar- 
rival he awaits is Hel, the goddess of death or fate. It 
has already been demonstrated that Hel in the heathen 
records is always identical with Urd. 

Njorve is here used both as a proper and a common 
noun. "The kinswoman of the Njorve of Odin's foes" 
means "the kinswoman of the binder of Odin's foes." 
Odin's foe Fenrer was bound with an excellent chain 
smithied in the lower world (dwarfs in Svartalfheimr 
Gylfag., 37), and as shall be shown later, there are more 
,than one of Odin's foes who are bound with Narve's 
chains (see No. 87). 

(c) Hofudlausn (str. 10). Egil Skallagrimson cele- 
brates in song a victory won by Erik Blood-axe, and says 
of the battle-field that there trad nipt Nora ndttverd ara 
("Nare's kinswoman trampled upon the supper of the 
eagles," that is to say, upon the dead bodies of the fall- 
en). The psychopomps of disease, of age, and of mis- 
fortunes have nothing to do on a battle-field. Thither 
come valkyries to fetch the elect. Nipt Nara must there- 
fore be a valkyrie, whose horse tramples upon the heaps 
of dead bodies ; and as Egil names only one shield-maid of 
that kind, he doubtless has had the most representative, 
the most important one in mind. That one is Skuld, 
Urd's sister, and thus a nipt Nara like Urd herself. 

Ynglingatal (Ynglingasaga, ch. 20). Of King 



Dygve, who died from disease, it is said that jodis Narva 
(jodis Nora) chose him. The right to choose those who 
die from disease belongs to the norns alone (see No. 
69 ). Jodis, a word doubtless produced by a vowel change 
from the Old Germanic idis, has already in olden times 
been interpreted partly as horse-dis (from for, horse), 
partly as the dis of one's kin (from jod, child, offspring). 
In this case the skald has taken advantage of both signi- 
fications. He calls the death-dis ulfs ok Narva jodis, 
the wolf's horse-dis, Narve's kin-dis. In regard to the 
former signification, it should be remembered that the 
wolf is horse for all giantesses, the honoured norns not 
excepted. Cp. grey norna as a paraphrase for wolf. 
Thus what our mythic records tell us about Narve is : 
(a) He is one of the oldest beings of theogony, 
older than the upper part of the world constructed by 
Bur's sons. 

(&) He is of giant descent. 

(c) He is father of Nat, father-in-law of Nagelfar, 
Onar, and of Belling, the elf of the rosy dawn ; and he is 
the father of Dag's mother, oiUnnr, and of the goddess 
Jord, who becomes Odin's wife and Thor's mother. 
Bonds of kinship thus connect him with the Asas and 
with gods of other ranks. 

(d) He is near akin to the dis of fate and death, 
Urd and her sisters. The word nipt, with which Urd's 
relation to him is indicated, may mean sister, daughter, 
and sister's daughter, and consequently does not state 
which particular one of these it is. It seems upon the 
whole to have been applied well-nigh exclusively in regard 



to mythic persons, and particularly in regard to Urd and 
her sisters (cp. above: Njdrva nipt, nipt Nara, nipt 
Nera), so that it almost acquired the meaning of dis or 
norn. This is evident from Skaldskaparmal, ch. 75 : 
Nornir heita thcer er naud skapa; Nipt ok Dis nu eru 
taldar, and from the expression Heil Nott ok Nipt in the 
above-cited strophe from Sigrdrifumal. There is every 
reason for assuming that the Nipt, which is here used as 
a proper noun, in this sense means the dis of fate and as 
an appellation of kinship, a kinswoman of Nat. The com- 
mon interpretation of heil Nott ok Nipt is "hail Nat and 
her daughter," and by her daughter is then meant the 
goddess Jord; but this interpretation is, as Bugge has 
shown, less probable, for the goddess Jord immediately 
below gets her special greeting in the words : heil sia in 
fiolnyta Fold! ("hail the bounteous earth!") 

(e) As the father of Nat, living in Mimer's realm, 
and kinsman of Urd, who with Mimer divides the domin- 
ion over the lower world, Narve is himself a being of the 
lower world, and the oldest subterranean being; the first 
one who inhabited Jotunheim. 

(/) He presided over the subterranean fountain of 
wisdom and inspiration, that is to say, Mimer's fountain. 

(g) He was Odin's friend and the binder of Odin's 

(h) He died and left his fountain as a heritage to 
his descendants. 

As our investigation progresses it will be found that 
all these facts concerning Narve apply to Mimer, that 
"he who thinks" (Mimer) and "he who binds" (Narve) 



fore him in the 
: ni4 with 


. or in 

which she 

informed the four bulls int 

'ii'lcet n: 
Til her 

ha. ' -'* hn 1 

i's to ine^BsM 

e given 

a d 

1 \v 

ri-'.\- ' hni 1; ..1 a imnrli ! 
. :ght, rii- -..L i ' ' "' 

tiy l^er magic s 

ttM|K <hc married Skjold 

above : 

it it almost acqi 
norn. This is evident fror 
Normr heita th&r er naud 
tal dor, and from the expression h 

2-cited strophe from Sigrdrifumal. 

m for assuming that the Nipt, which 
a proper ; .1^ J^tW5P%]* <V 


[J t-j/fajvorl?. .tiBv/ . 

T in Mimet s realrn, 

rjOflJiFJOlq 'J(! 


a -befog* vfetlii 

He wa< 

HP die 

as a heritag 

it will be fc 
ve appl 
"he wh< 


are the same person. Already the circumstances that 
Narve was an ancient being of giant descent, that he dwelt 
in the lower world and was the possessor of the foun- 
tain of wisdom there, that he was Odin's friend, and that 
he died and left his fountain as an inheritance (cp. Mims 
synir), point definitely to Narve's and Mimer' s identity. 
Thus the Teutonic theogony has made Thought the older 
kinsman of Fate, who through Nat bears Dag to the 
world. The people of antiquity made their first steps 
toward a philosophical view of the world in their the- 

The Old English language has preserved and trans- 
ferred to the Christian Paradise a name which originally 
belonged to the subterranean region of bliss of heathen- 
dom Neorxenavang. Vang means a meadow, plain, 
field. The mysterious Neorxena looks like a genitive 
plural. Grein, in his Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, and be- 
fore him Weinhold, refers neorxena to Narve, Nare, and 
this without a suspicion that Narue was an epithet of 
Mimer and referred to the l^ing of the heathen regions 
of bliss. I consider this an evidence that Grein's assump- 
tion is as correct as it is necessary, if upon the whole we 
are to look for an etymological explanation of the word. 
The plural genitive, then, means those who inhabit 
Narve's regions of bliss, and receive their appellation from 
this circumstance. The opposite Old Norse appellation 
is njarir, a word which I shall discuss below. 

To judge from certain passages in Christian writings 
of the thirteenth century, Mimer was not alone about the 
name Narve, Nare. One or two of Loke's sons are sup- 



posed to have had the same name. The statements in 
this regard demand investigation, and, as I think, this 
will furnish another instructive contribution to the chap- 
ter on the confusion of the mythic traditions, and on the 
part that the Younger Edda plays in this respect. The 
passages are: 

(a) The prosaic afterword to Lokasennai: "He 
(Loke) was bound with the entrails of his son Nari, but 
his son Narfi was turned into a wolf." 
' (b) Gylfaginning, ch. 33. (1) Most of the 
codices: "His (Loke's) wife is hight Sygin; their son is 
Nari or Narvi." 

(2) Codex Hypnonesiensis: "His (Loke's) wife is 
hight Sygin ; his sons are hight Nari or Narvi and Vali." 

(c) Gylfaginning, ch. 50. (1) Most of the codices: 
"Then were taken Loke's sons Vali and Nari or Narfi. 
The Asas changed Vali into a wolf, and the latter tore 
into pieces his brother Narfi. Then the Asas took his 
entrails and therewith bound Loke." 

(2) Codex Upsalensis: "Then were taken Loke's 
sons Vali and Nari. The Asas changed Vali into a wolf, 
and the latter tore into pieces his brother Nari." 

(d) Skaldskaparmal, ch. 16. (1) "Loke is the 
father of the wolf Fenrer, the Midgard-serpent, and Hel, 
'and also of Nari and Ali.' '' 

(2) Codex Wormianus and Codex Hypnonesiensis, 
3 : "Loke is father of the Fenris-wolf , of the Midgard- 
serpent, and of Hel, 'and also of Nari and Vali' " 

The mythology has stated that Loke was bound with 
chains which were originally entrails, and that he who 



contributed the materials of these chains was his own 
son, who was torn into pieces by his brother in wolf 
guise. It is possible that there is something symbolic 
in this myth that it originated in the thought that the 
forces created by evil contend with each other and destroy 
their own parent. There is at least no reason for doubt- 
ing that this account is a genuine myth, that is to say, 
that it comes from a heathen source and from some 
heathen poem. 

But, in regard to the names of Loke's two sons here 
in question, we have a perfect right to doubt. 

We discover at once the contradictions betrayed by the 
records in regard to them. The discrepancy of the state- 
ments can best be shown by the following comparisons. 
Besides Fenrer, the Midgard-serpent, and Hel, Loke has, 
according to 

Gylfaginning, 33 : the son Nari, also called Narft No other son is named ; 

The Prose added to ) 

Lokasenna : i tne son Nan > and the son Narft 

Co ?^i^ P1 ^'- (thesonNori, also called Narvi. and the son Vali : 

V, VJryildrSM OOJ . ) 

Gylfaginning, ch. 50 : the son Nari, also called Narft and the son Vali ; 

sk ch ds i k 6 a F armal> i the son Nari > and the son *; 

Nari > is torn into pieces by Narft; 

Gylfaginning : Nari-Narfl is torn into pieces by Vali. 

The discrepancy shows that the author of these state- 
ments did not have any mythic song or mythic tradition 
as the source of all these names of Loke's sons. 

The matter becomes even more suspicious when we 

That the variations Nare and Narve, both of which 

18 6l 9 


belong to one of the foremost and noblest of mythic be- 
ings, namely, to Mimer, are here applied in such a man- 
ner that they either are given to two sons of Loke or are 
attributed to one and the same Loke-son, while in the lat- 
ter case it happens 

That the names Vale and Ale, which both belong to 
the same Asa-god and son of Odin who avenged the death 
of his brother Balder, are both attributed to the other son 
of Loke. Compare Gylfaginning, ch. 30: Vali eda Ali 
heitir einn (Assin) sonr Odins ok Rindar. 

How shall we explain this? Such an application of 
these names must necessarily produce the suspicion of 
some serious mistake; but we cannot assume that it was 
made wilfully. The cause must be found somewhere. 

It has already been demonstrated that, in the mythology, 
Urd, the dis of fate, was also the dis of death and the ruler 
of the lower world, and that the functions belonging to 
her in this capacity were, in Christian times, transferred 
to Loke's daughter, who, together with her functions, 
usurped her name Hel. Loke's daughter and Hel be- 
came to the Christian mythographers identical. - 

An inevitable result was that such expressions as nipt 
Nara, jodis Narfa, nipt Njorva, had to change mean- 
ing. The nipt Njbrva, whom the aged Egil saw stand- 
ing near the grave-mound on Digraness, and whose ar- 
rival he awaited "with gladness and good-will," was no 
longer the death-dis Urd, but became to the Christian 
interpreters the abominable daughter of Loke who came 
to fetch the old heathen. The nipt Nara, whose horse 
trampled on the battle-field where Erik Blood-axe defeated 



the Scots, was no longer Urd's sister, the valkyrie Skuld, 
but became Loke's daughter, although, even according 
to the Christian mythographers, the latter had nothing 
to do on a battle-field. The jodis Narfa, who chose King 
Dygve, was confounded with Loka mar, who had him 
leikinn (see No. 67), but who, according to the heathen 
conception, was a maid-servant of fate, without the right 
of choosing. To the heathens nipt Nara, nipt Njorva, 
jodis N,arfa, meant "Nare-Mimer's kinswoman Urd." 
To the mythographers of the thirteenth century it must, 
for the reason stated, have meant the Loke-daughter as 
sister of a certain Nare or Narve. It follows that this 
Nare or Narve ought to be a son of Loke, since his sis- 
ter was Loke's daughter. It was known that Loke be- 
sides Fenrer and the Midgard-serpent, had two other 
sons, of which the one in the guise of a wolf tore the 
other into pieces. In Nare, Narve, the name of one or 
the names of both these Loke-sons were thought to have 
been found. 

The latter assumption was made by the author of the 
prose in Lokasenna. He conceived Nare to be the one 
brother and Narve the other. The author of Gylfagin- 
ning, on the other hand, rightly regarded Nare and Narve 
as simply variations of the same name, and accordingly 
let them designate the same son of Loke. When he 
wrote chapter 33, he did not know what name to give 
to the other, and consequently omitted him entirely. But 
when he got to the 50th chapter, a light had risen for 
him in regard to the name of the other. And the light 
doubtless came from the following strophe in Voluspa: 



tha kna vala 
vigbond snua, 
helldi voru hardgior 
hoft or thormum. 

This half strophe says that those were strong chains 
(for Loke) that were made of entrails, and these fetters 
were "twisted" from "Vale's vigbond!' Vig as a legal 
term means a murder, slaughter. Vala ing was inter- 
preted as a murder committed by Vale; and Vala vigbond 
as the bonds or fetters obtained by the slaughter com- 
mitted by Vale. It was known that Loke was chained 
with the entrails of his son, and here it was thought to 
appear that this son was slain by a certain Vale. And 
as he was slain by a brother according to the myth, then 
Vale must be the brother of the slain son of Loke. Ac- 
cordingly chapter 50 of Gylfaginning could tell us what 
chapter 33 did not yet know, namely, that the two sons 
of Loke were named Vale and Nare or Narve, and that 
Vale changed to a wolf, tore the brother "Nare or Narve" 
into pieces. 

The next step was taken by Skaldskaparmal, or more 
probably by one of the transcribers of Skaldskaparmal. 
As Vale and Ale in the mythology designated the same 
person (viz., Balder's avenger, the son of Odin), the son 
of Loke, changed into a wolf, "Vale" received as a gift 
the name "Ale." It is by no means impossible that the 
transcriber regarded Balder's avenger, Vale, and the son 
of Loke as identical. The oldest manuscript we have of 
Skaldskaparmal is the Upsala Codex, which is no older 
than the beginning of the fourteenth century. The 



m3"thic traditions were then in the continuation of that 
rapid decay which had begun in the eleventh century, and 
not long thereafter the Icelandic saga writings saw Val- 
hal peopled by giants and all sorts of monsters, which 
were called einherjes, and Thor himself transferred to 
the places of torture where he drank venom from "the 
auroch's horn," presented to him by the daughter of 

In the interpretation of the above-cited half strophe 
of Voluspa, we must therefore leave out the supposed son 
of Loke, Vale. The Teutonic mythology, like the other 
Aryan mythologies, applied many names and epithets to 
the same person, but it seldom gave two or more persons 
one and the same name, unless the latter was a patrony- 
mic or, in other respects, of a general character. There 
was not more than one Odin, one Thor, one Njord, one 
Heimdal, one Loke, and there is no reason for assuming 
that there was more than one Yale, namely, the divine 
son of this name. Of Balder' s 'brother Vale we know 
that he was born to avenge the slaying of Balder. His 
impatience to do that which he was called to perform is 
expressed in the mythology by the statement, that he lib- 
erated himself from the womb of his mother before the 
usual time (Baldrs brodir var af borinn snemma 
Voluspa), and only one night old he went to slay Hodr. 
The bonds which confine the impatient one in his moth- 
er's womb were his vigbond, the bonds which hindered 
him from combat, and these bonds were in the most literal 
sense of the word or thormum. As Loke's bonds are 
made of the same material and destined to hinder him 



from combat with the gods until Ragnarok, and as his 
prison is in the womb of the earth, as Vale's was in that 
of the earth-goddess Rind's, then Vala vigbond as a desig- 
nation of Loke's chains is both logically and poetically 
a satisfactory paraphrase, and the more in order as it 
occurs in connection with the description of the impending 
Ragnarok, when Loke by an earthquake is to sever his 
fetters and hasten to the conflict. 



In Havamal (140, ff.), Odin says that he in his youth 
obtained nine fimbul-songs and a drink of the precious 
mead dipped out of Odrerer from Beyzla's father, Bol- 
thorn's famous son : 

Fimbulliod nio 

nam ec 'af enom fregia syni 

Baulthorns Beyzlu faudur 

oc ce dryc of gat 

ens dyra miadar 

ausinn Odreri. 

The mythologists have assumed, for reasons that can- 
not be doubted, that Bolthorn's famous son, Beistla's 
brother, is identical with Mimer. No one else than he 
presided at that time over the drink dipped out of Odrerer, 
the fountain which conceals "wisdom and man's sense," 
and Sigrdrifumal (13, 14) corroborates that it was from 
Mimer, and through a drink from "Hodrofner's horn," 
that Odin obtained wonderful runes and "true sayings." 



Accordingly Mimer had a sister by name Beyzla 
(variations: Bestla, Besla, Bezla). A strophe by Einar 
Skalaglam ( Skaldskaparmal, ch. 2; cp. Gylfag., ch. 6) 
informs us that Beistla is Odin's mother. Mimer's dis- 
ciple, the clan-chieftain of the gods, is accordingly his 
sister's son. Herein we have one more reason for the 
faithful friendship which Mimer always showed to Odin. 

The Mimer epithet Narfi, Narve, means, as shown 
above, "the one who binds." His daughter Nat is called 
draumnjomn, the dream-binder (Alvism., 31). His 
kinswomen, the norns, spin and bind the threads and 
bonds, which, extended throughout the world, weave to- 
gether the web of events. Such threads and bonds are 
called orlogthozttir (Helge Hund., i. 3), and Urdar lokur 
(Grogaldr., 7). As the nearest kinswomen of Beistla 
all have epithets or tasks which refer to the idea of 
binding, and when we add to this that Beistla's sons and 
descendants as gods have the lepithet h'opt and bond, her 
own name might most properly be referred to the old word 
beizl, beisl (cp. betsel, bridle), which has a similar mean- 

As Mimer and Beistla are of giant descent, and in the 
theogony belong to the same stage of development as 
Bur (Burr), Odin's father, then, as the mythologists also 
have assumed, Bolthorn can be none else than Ymer. 

Mimer, Beistla, the norns, and Nat thus form a group 
of kindred beings, which belong to the oldest giant race, 
but still they are most definitely separated from the other 
descendants of Ymer, as a higher race of giants from a 
lower, a noble giant race friendly to the gods and foster- 



ing the gods, from that race of deformed beings which 
bear children in the strangest manner, which are hostile 
to the gods and to the world, and which are represented 
by the rimthurses Thrudgelmer and Bergelmer and their 

It now lies near at hand to inquire whether the my- 
thology which attributed the same father to Mimer and 
Thrudgelmer was unable to conceive in this connection 
the idea of a nobler origin for the former than the latter. 
The remedy nearest at hand would have been to have 
given them mothers of different characters. But the 
mythology did not resort to this expedient. It is ex- 
pressly stated that Ymer bore children without the pleas- 
ure of woman (gygiar gaman> Vafthrudnersmal, 32 ; cp. 
No. 60). Neither Mimer nor Thrudgelmer had a mother. 
Under such circumstances there is another expedient 
to which the sister of the Teutonic mythology, the Rig- 
veda mythology, has resorted, and which is explained in 
the 90th hymn of book x. of Rigveda. The hymn in- 
forms us in regard to a primeval giant Parusha, and this 
myth is so similar to the Teutonic in regard to Ymer 
that it must here be considered. 

The primeval being Parusha was a giant monster as 
large as the whole world, and even larger (lines 1-5). 
The gods resolved to sacrifice him, that is to say, to slay 
him for sacred purposes (1. 6), and from his limbs was 
created the present world. From his navel was made the 
atmosphere, from his head the canopy of heaven, from 
his two feet the earth, from his heart the moon, from his 
eye the sun, from his breath the wind, &c. His mouth 



became the brahma (the priest), his arms became the 
raj any a (the warrior), his thighs became the vaisya (the 
third free caste), and from his feet arose the sudra (the 
thrall, line 12). 

The two fundamental ideas of the myth concerning 
Parusha are: 

(1) There was a primeval being who was not di- 
vine. The gods slew him and created the material world 
out of his limbs. 

(2) This primeval being gave rise to other beings 
of different ranks, and their rank corresponded with the 
position of the giant's limbs from which they were 

Both these fundamental ideas reappear in the Teutonic 
myth concerning Ymer. In regard to the former idea 
we need only to quote what Vafthrudnersmal says in 
strophe 21 : 

Or Ymis holdi Of Ymer's flesh 

var iord um scaupud, the world was shapen, 

en or beinom bjorg, from his bones the rocks, 

himinn or hausi the heavens from the head 

ins hrimkalda iotuns, of the ice-cold giant, 

enn or sveita sior. from his blood the sea. 

In regard to the second fundamental idea, it is evident 
from the Rigveda account that it is not there found in 
its oldest form, but that, after the rise of four castes 
among the Rigveda Aryans, it was changed, in order 
to furnish an explanation of the origin of these castes 
and make them at least as old as the present material 
world. Far more original, and perfectly free from the 



influence of social ideas, it appears in the Teutonic my- 
thology, where the 33rd strophe of Vafthrudnersmal tes- 
tifies concerning its character : 

Undir hendi vaxa A son and a daughter 

quatho hrimthursi are said to have been born to- 

mey oc maug saman; under the rimthurse's arm; 

fotr vid foti gat foot begat with foot 

ins froda iotuns the strange-headed son 

serhaufdathan son. of the wise giant. 

In perfect harmony with this Gylfaginning narrates: 
"'Under Ymer's left arm grew forth a man and a woman, 
and his one foot begat with the other a son. Thence 
come (different) races." 

The different races have this in common, that they are 
giant races, since they spring from Ymer ; but these giant 
races must at the same time have been widely different 
intellectually and physically, since the mythology gives 
them different origins from different limbs of the pro- 
genitor. And here, as in Rigveda, it is clear that the 
lowest race was conceived as proceeding from the feet 
of the primeval giant. This is stated with sufficient 
distinctness in Vafthrudnersmal, where we read that a 
"strangely-headed" monster (Thrudgelmer see No. 60) 
was born by them, while "man and maid" were born un- 
der the arm of the giant. "The man" and "the maid" 
must therefore represent a noble race sprung from 
Ymer, and they can only be Mimer and his sister, Odin's 
mother. Mimer and his clan constitute a group of an- 
cient powers, who watch over the fountains of the life of 
the world and care for the perpetuation of the world- 



tree. From them proceeded the oldest, fairest, and most 
enduring parts of the creation. For the lower world 
was put in order and had its sacred fountains and guar- 
dians before Bur's sons created Midgard and Asgard. 
Among them the world-tree grew up from its roots, 
whose source no one knows (Havamal, 138). Among 
them those forces are active which make the starry 
firmament revolve on its axis, and from them come the 
seasons and the divisions of time, for Nat and nidjar, 
Mane and Sol, belong to Mimer's clan, and were in the 
morning of creation named by the oldest "high holy 
gods," and endowed with the vocation drom at telja 
(Voluspa). From Mimer comes the first culture, for 
in his fountain inspiration, spiritual power, man's wit 
and wisdom, have their source, and around him as chief 
stand gathered the artists of antiquity by whose hands all 
things can be smithied into living and wonderful things. 
Such a giant clan demands another origin than that of 
the frost-giants and their offspring. As we learn from 
Vafthrudnersmal that two giant races proceeded from 
Ymer, the one from a part of his body which in a sym- 
bolic sense is more noble than that from which the other 
race sprang, and that the race born of his feet was the 
ignoble one hostile to the gods, then the conclusion fol- 
lows of necessity that "the man and maid" who were 
born as twins under Ymer's arm became the founders 
of that noble group of giants who are friendly to the gods, 
and which confront us in the mythology of our fathers. 
It has already been shown above (see No. 54) that Jima 
(Yama) in the Asiatic- Aryan mythology corresponds to 



Mimer in the Teutonic. Jima is an epithet which means 
twin. The one with whom Jima was born together was 
a maid, Yami. The words in the quoted Vafthrudners- 
mal strophe, undir hendi hrimthursi vaxa mey ok maug 
saman, are evidence that the Germans also considered 
Mimer and his sister as twins. 




The condition in which the traditions of the great 
Volund (Way land) have come down to our time is one 
of the many examples illustrating how, under the in- 
fluences of a change of faith, a myth disrobes itself of 
its purely mythical character and becomes a heroic saga. 
The nature of the mythic traditions and songs is not 
at once obliterated in the time of transition ; there remain 
marks of their original nature in some or other of the 
details as proof of what they have been. Thus that frag- 
ment of a Volund saga, turned into an epic, which the 
Old Norse literature has preserved for us in Volundar- 
kvida, shows us that the artist who is the hero of the song 
was originally conceived not as a son of man, but as a 
member of the mythic race of elves which in Voluspa 
is mentioned in connection with the Asas (hvat er tned 
asom, hvat er med alfomf str. 49). Volund is an elf- 
prince (alfa visi, alfa Ijothi Volund., str. 10, 13), and, 
as shall be shown below, when we come to consider the 
Volund myth exhaustively, he and his brothers and their 



mistresses have played parts of the very greatest im- 
portance in the epic of Teutonic mythology. Under such 
circumstances it follows that the other persons appearing 
in Volundarkvida also were originally mythical char- 

One of these is called Nidadr (Nidudr), king of Njares, 
and I am now to investigate who this Nidadr was in the 

When Volund for the first time appears by this name 
in the Elder Edda, he is sojourning in a distant country, 
to which it is impossible to come without traversing the 
Myrkwood forest famous in the mythology (see No. 78). 
It is a snow-clad country, the home of bears and wolves. 
Volund gets his subsistence by hunting on skees. The 
Old English poem, "Deor the Scald's Complaint," con- 
firms that this region was regarded as very cold (cp. 
viniercealde vrcece}. In Volundarkvida it is called Wolf- 

Volund stays here many years in company with his 
two brothers and with three swan-maids, their mis- 
tresses or wives, but finally alone. Volund passes the 
time in smithying, until he is suddenly attacked by 
Nidadr (Nidudr), "the Njara-king" (Volundarkv., 6), 
who puts him in chains and robs him of two extraordi- 
nary treasures a sword and an arm-ring. Seven hun- 
dred arm-rings hung in a string in Volund's hall; but 
this one alone seemed to be worth more than all the rest, 
and it alone was desired by Nidadr (str. 7, 8, 17). 

Before Volund went to the Wolf dales, he had lived 
with his people a happy life in a land abounding in gold 



(str. 14). Not voluntarily, but from dire necessity he 
had exchanged his home for the distant wilderness of 
the Wolfdales. "Deor the Scald's Complaint" says he 
was an exile (V eland him- be vurman vreces can-node}. 
A German saga of the middle ages, "Anhang des Helden- 
buchs," confirms this statement. Wieland (Volund), 
it is there said, "was a duke who was banished by two 
giants, who took his land from him," whereupon "he 
was stricken with poverty," and "became a smith." The 
Volundarkvida does not have much to say about the rea- 
son for his sojourn in the Wolfdales, but strophe 28 in- 
forms us that, previous to his arrival there, he had suf- 
fered an injustice, of which he speaks as the worst and 
the most revenge-demanding which he, the unhappy and 
revengeful man, ever experienced. But he has had no 
opportunity of demanding satisfaction, when he finally 
succeeds in getting free from Nidadr's chains. Who 
those mythic persons are that have so cruelly insulted him 
and filed his heart with unquenchable thirst for revenge 
is not mentioned ; but in the very nature of the case those 
persons from whose persecutions he has fled must have 
been mightier than he, and as he himself is a chief in the 
godlike clan of elves, his foes are naturally to be looked 
for among the more powerful races of gods. 

And as Volundarkvida pictures him as boundlessly and 
recklessly revengeful, and makes him resort to his extra- 
ordinary skill as a smith a skill famous among all Teu- 
tonic tribes in the satisfaction which he demands of 
Nidudr, there is no room for doubt that the many years 
he spent in Wolfdales, he brooded on plans of revenge 



against those who had most deeply insulted him, and that 
he made use of his art to secure instruments for the car- 
rying out of these plans. Of the glittering sword of 
which Nidadr robbed him, Volund says (str. 18) that he 
had applied his greatest skill in making it hard and keen. 
The sword must, therefore, have been one of the most 
excellent ones mentioned in the songs of Teutonic heath- 
endom. Far down in the middle ages, the songs and 
sagas were fond of attributing the best and most famous 
swords wielded by their heroes to the skill of Volund. 

In the myths turned by Saxo into history, there has 
been mentioned a sword of a most remarkable kind, of 
untold value (ingens premium}, and attended by success 
in battle (belli fortuna comitaretur) . A hero whose 
name Saxo Latinised into Hotherus (see Hist. Dan., p. 
110) got into enmity with the Asa-gods, and the only 
means with which he can hops to cope with them is the 
possession of this sword. He also knows where to se- 
cure it, and with its aid he succeeds in putting Thor him- 
self and other gods to flight. 

In order to get possession of this sword, Hotherus 
had to make a journey which reminds us of the adven- 
turous expeditions already described to Gudmund-Mi- 
mer's domain, but with this difference, that he does not 
need to go by sea along the coast of Norway in order to 
get there, which circumstance is sufficiently explained by 
the fact that, according to Saxo, Hotherus has his home 
in Sweden. The regions which Hotherus has to traverse 
are pathless, full of obstacles, and for the greater part 
continually in the cold embrace of the severest frost. 



They are traversed by mountain-ridges on which the 
cold is terrible, and therefore they must be crossed as 
rapidly as possible with the aid of "yoke-stags." The 
sword is kept concealed in a specus, a subterranean cave, 
and "mortals" can scarcely cross its threshold (haud facile 
mortalibus patere posse). The being which is the ward 
of the sword in this cave is by Saxo called Mimingus. 

The question now is, whether the sword smithied by 
Volund and the one fetched by Hotherus are identical 
or not. The former is smithied in a winter-cold country 
beyond Myrkwood, where the mythic Nidadr suddenly 
appears, takes possession of it, and the purpose for which 
it was made, judging from all circumstances, was that 
Volund with its aid was to conquer the hated powers 
which, stronger than he, the chief of elves, had com- 
pelled him to take refuge to the Wolfdales. If these 
powers were Asas or Vans, then it follows that Volund 
must have thought himself able to give to his sword 
qualities that could render it dangerous to the world of 
gods, although the latter had Thor's hammer and other 
subterranean weapons at their disposal. The sword cap- 
tured by Hotherus is said to possess those very qualities 
which we might look for in the Volund weapon, and the 
regions he has to traverse in order to get possession of it 
refer, by their cold and remoteness, to a land similar to 
that where Nidadr surprises Volund, and takes from him 
the dangerous sword. 

As already stated, Nidad at the same time captured 
an arm-ring of an extraordinary kind. If the saga about 
Volund and his sword was connected with the saga-frag- 



ment turned into history by Saxo concerning Hotherus 
and the sword, whose owner he becomes, then we might 
reasonably expect that the precious arm-ring, too, should 
appear in the latter saga. And we do find it there. 
Mimingus, who guards the sword of victory, also guards 
a wonderful arm-ring, and through Saxo we learn what 
quality makes this particular arm-ring so precious, that 
Nidad does not seem to care about the other seven hun- 
dred which he finds in Volund's workshop. Saxo says: 
Eidem (Mimingo) quoque armillam esse mira quadam 
arcanaque virtute possessoris opes cwgere solitam. "In 
the arm-ring there dwells a wonderful and mysterious 
power, which increases the wealth of its possessor." In 
other words, it is a smith's work, the rival of the ring 
Draupner, from which eight similar rings drop every 
ninth night. This explains why Volund's smithy contains 
so many rings, that Nidad expresses his suspicious won- 
derment (str. 13). 

There are therefore strong reasons for assuming that 
the sword and the ring, which Hotherus takes from 
Mimingus, are the same sword and ring as Nidad be- 
fore took from Volund, and that the saga, having de- 
prived Volund of the opportunity of testing the quality of 
the weapon himself in conflict with the gods, wanted to 
indicate what it really amounted to in a contest with 
Thor and his hammer by letting the sword came into the 
hands of Hotherus, another foe of the Asas. As we 
now find such articles as those captured by Nidad re- 
appearing in the hands of a certain Mimingus, the ques- 
tion arises whether Mimingus is Nidad himself or some 



one of Nidad's subjects; for that they either are identi- 
cal, or are in some way connected with each other, seems 
to follow from the fact that the one is said to possess 
what the other is said to have captured. Mimingus is a 
Latinising of Mimingr, Mimungr, son or descendant of 

Nidadr, Nidudr (both variations are found in Volun- 
darkvida), has, on the other hand, his counterpart in the 
Anglo-Saxon Nidhad. The king who in "Deor the 
Scald's Complaint" fetters Volund bears this name, and 
his daughter is called Beadohild, in Volundarkvida Bod- 
vild. Previous investigators have already remarked that 
Beadohild is a more original form than Bodvild, and 
Nidhad than Nidudr, Nidadr. The name Nidhad is 
composed of nid (neuter gender), the lower world, Hades, 
and had, a being, person, forma, species. Nidhad literally 
means the lower world being, the Hades being. Here- 
with we also have his mythical character determined. A 
mythical king, who is characterised as the being of the 
lower world, must be a subterranean king. The mythic 
records extant speak of the subterranean king Mimer 
(the middle-age saga's Gudmund, king of the Glittering 
Fields; see Nos. 45, 46), who rules over the realm of 
the well of wisdom and has the dis of fate as his kins- 
woman, the princess of the realm of Urd's fountain and 
of the whole realm of death. While we thus find, on 
the one hand, that it is a subterranean king who cap- 
tures Volund's sword and arm-ring, we find, on the other 
hand, that when Hotherus is about to secure the irresisti- 
ble sword and the wealth-producing ring, he has to be- 



take himself to the same winter-cold country, where all 
the traditions here discussed (see Nos. 45-49) locate the 
descent to Mimer's realm, and that he, through an en- 
trance "scarcely approachable for mortals," must pro- 
ceed into the bosom of the earth after he has subdued a 
Mimingus, a son of Mimer. Mimer being the one who 
took possession of the treasure, it is perfectly natural 
that his son should be its keeper. 

This also explains why Nidadr in Volundarkvida is 
called the king of the Njares. A people called Njares 
existed in the mythology, but not in reality. The only 
explanation of the word is to be found in the Mimer 
epithet, which we discovered in the variations Narve, 
Njorve, Nare, Nere, which means "he who binds." They 
are called Njares, because they belong to the clan of 

Volundarkvida (str. 19, with the following prose addi- 
tion) makes Nidad's queen command Volund's knee- 
sinews to be cut. Of such a cruelty the older poem, 
"Deor the Skald's Complaint," knows nothing. This 
poem relates, on the other hand, that Nidad bound Volund 
with a fetter made from a strong sinew: 

siththan hinne Nidhad on 

nede legde 

sveoncre seono-bende. 

Though Volund is in the highest degree skilful, he is 
not able to free himself from these bonds. They are of 
magic kind, and resemble those crlagthcettir which are 
tied by Mimer's kinswoman Urd. Nidad accordingly 



here appears in Mimer-Njorve's character as "binder." 
With this fetter of sinew we must compare the one with 
which Loke was bound, and that tough and elastic one 
which was made in the lower world and which holds 
Fenrer bound until Ragnarok. And as Volund a cir- 
cumstance already made probable, and one that shall be 
fully proved below actually regards himself as insulted 
by the gods, and has planned a terrible revenge against 
them, then it is an enemy of Odin that Nidhad here binds, 
and the above-cited paraphrase for the death-dis, Urd, 
employed by Egil Skallagrimson, "the kinswoman of the 
binder (Njorva) of Odin's foes" (see No. 85), also 
becomes applicable here. 

The tradition concerning Nidhad's original identity 
with Mimer flourished for a long time in the German 
middle-age sagas, and passed thence into the Vilkinasaga, 
where the banished Volund became Mimer's smith. The 
author of Vilkinasaga, compiling both from German and 
from Norse sources, saw Volund in the German records 
as a smith in Mimer's employ, and in the Norse sagas he 
found him as Nidhad's smith, and from the two synonyms 
he made two persons. 

The Norse form of the name most nearly correspond- 
ing to the Old English Nidhad is Nidi, "the subter- 
ranean," and that Mimer also among the Norsemen was 
known by this epithet is plain both from the Sol-song 
and from Voluspa. The skald of the Sol-song sees in 
the lower world "Nide's sons, seven together, drinking 
the clear mead from the well of ring-Regin." The well 
of the lower world with the "clear mead" is Mimer's 



fountain, and the paraphrase ring-Regin is well suited 
to Mimer, who possessed among other treasures the won- 
derful ring of Hotherus. Voluspa speaks of Nide's 
mountain, the Hvergelmer mountain, from which the 
subterranean dragon Nidhog flies (see No. 75), and of 
Nide's plains where Sindre's race have their golden hall. 
Sindre is, as we know, one of the most celebrated prime- 
val smiths of mythology, and he smithied Thor's lightning 
hammer, Prey's golden boar, and Odin's spear Gungner 
(Gylfaginning). Dwelling with his kinsmen in Mimer's 
realm, he is one of the artists whom the ruler of the lower 
world kept around him (cp. No. 53). Several of the 
wonderful things made by these artists, as for instance 
the harvest-god's Skidbladner, and golden boar, and 
Sif's golden locks, are manifestly symbols of growth or 
vegetation. The same is therefore true of the original 
Teutonic primeval smiths as of the Ribhuians, the ancient 
smiths of Rigveda, that they make not only implements 
and weapons, but also grass and herbs. Out of the lower 
world grows the world-tree, and is kept continually fresh 
by the liquids of the sacred fountains. In the abyss 
of the lower world and in the sea is ground that mould 
which makes the fertility of Midgard possible (see No. 
80) ; in the lower world "are smithied" those flowers and 
those harvests which grow out of this mould, and from the 
manes of the subterranean horses, and from their foaming 
bridles, falls on the fields and meadows that honey-dew 
"which gives harvests to men." 

Finally, it must be pointed out that when Nidhad binds 
Volund, the foe of the gods, this is in harmony with 



Mimer's activity throughout the epic of the myths as the 
friend of the Asa-gods, and as the helper of Odin, his 
sister's son, in word and deed. 

Further evidences of Mimer's identity with Nidhad 
are to be found in the Svipdag myth, which I shall dis- 
cuss further on. 

Vafthrudnersmal states in strophe 25 that "beneficent 
re gin (makers) created Ny and Nedan to count times for 
men/' this being said in connection with what it states 
about Narve, Nat, and Dag. In the Voluspa dwarf-list 
we find that the chief of these re gin was Modsogner, 
whose identity with Mimer has been shown (see No. 53). 
Modsogner-Mimer created among other "dwarfs" also 
Ny and Nedan (Voluspa, 11). These are, therefore, his 
sons at least in the sense that they are indebted to him 
for their origin. The expressions to create and to beget 
are very closely related in the mythology. Of Njord 
Vafthrudner also says (str. 39) that "wise re gin created 
him" in Vanaheim. 

As sons of Nide-Mimer the changes of the moon have 
been called after his name Nidi, and collectively they have 
been called by the plural Nidgar, in a later time Nidar. 
And as Nat's brothers they are enumerated along with her 
as a stereotyped alliteration. In Vafthrudnersmal Odin 
asks the wise giant whether he knows whence Nat and 
Nidjar '(Nott med NithomJ came, and Voluspa (6) 
relates that in the dawn of time the high holy gods (regin) 
seated themselves on their judgment-seats and gave 
names to Nat and Nidjar (Nott ok Nithiom). The 
giving of a name was in heathen times a sacred act, 



which implied an adoption in the name-giver's family or 
circle of friends. 

Nidjar also appears to have had his signification of 
moon-changes in regard to the changes of months. 
According to Saxo (see No. 46), King Gorm saw in the 
lower world twelve sons of Gudmund-Mimer, all "of 
noble appearance." Again, Solarljod's skald says that 
the sons of Nide, whom he saw in the lower world, were 
"seven together." From the standpoint of a nature- 
symbol the difference in these statements is explained by 
the fact that the months of the year were counted as 
twelve, but in regard to seasons and occupations there 
were seven divisions: gor-manudr, frer-m., hrut-m., 
ein-tn., sol-w., sel-m., kornskurdar-mdnudr. Seven is the 
epic-mythogical number of these Nidjar. To the saga 
in regard to these I shall return in No. 94. 



The names, epithets, and paraphrases with which the 
king of the lower world, the ward of the fountain of 
wisdom, was designated, according to the statements 
hitherto made, are the following: 

(1) Mimir (Hodd-mimir, Mimr, Mimi, Mime der 


(2) Narfi (Narvi, Njorui, Norr, Nari, Neri). 

(3) Nidi (Nidhad, Nidadr, Nidudr, Nidungr}. 
These three names, which means the Thinker, the 

Binder, the Subterranean, are presumably all ancient. 



(4) Modsognir, "the mead-drinker." 

(5) Hoddrofnir, presumably "the one bounteous in 


(6) Gauta spjalli, "the one with whom Gaute (Odin) 


(7) Baug-regin, Ring-regin. 

(8) Godmundr, the name by which Mimer appears 
in Christian middle-age sagas of Norse origin. To 
these names may still be added : 

(9) Fimbulthulr, "the great teacher" (the lecturer). 
Havamal (str. 142; cp. str. 80) says that Fimbulthulr 
drew (fadi) the runes, that ginn-regin "made" (gordo) 
them, that is to say, in the older sense of the word, pre- 
pared them for use, and that Odin (hroptr raugna) carved 
(reist} them. In the strophes immediately preceding, 
it is said that Odin, by self-sacrifice, begot runes out of 
the deep and fimbul-songs from Beistla's brother. These 
statements, joined with those which mention how the 
runes given by Mimer were spread over the world, and 
were taught by various clan-chiefs to different clans (see 
No. 53), make it evident that a perfect myth had been 
developed in regard to the origin of the runes and the 
spreading of runic knowledge. Mimer, as the possessor 
of the well of wisdom, was the inventor or source of the 
runes. When Sigrdrifumal (str. 13) says that they 
dropped out of Hoddrofner's horn, this is, figuratively 
speaking, the same as Havamal tells, when it states that 
Fimbulthul carved them. The oldest powers (ginn- 
regin') and Odin afterwards developed and spread them. 

At the time of Tacitus, and probably one or two cen- 



turies earlier, the art of writing was known among the 
Teutons. The runic inscriptions that have come down 
to our time bear evidence of a Greek-Roman origin. 

By this we do not mean to deny that there were runes 
at least, non-phonetic ones before them. The many 
kinds of magic runes of which our mythic records speak 
are perhaps reminiscences of them. At all events we 
must distinguish the latter from the common runes for 
writing, and also from the many kinds of cypher-runes 
the keys of which are to be sought in the common pho- 
netic rune-row. 

(10) Brimir. By the side of the golden hall of Sindre, 
Voluspa (str. 36) mentions the giants Brimer's "bjor" 
hall, which is in Okolnir. Bjorr is a synonym for mead 
and ale (Alvism., 34). Okolnir means "the place where 
cold is not found." The reference is to' a giant dwelling 
in the lower world who presides over mead, and whose 
hall is situated in a domain to which cold cannot pene- 
trate. The myth has put this giant in connection with 
Ymer, who in relative opposition to him is called Leir- 
brimir, clay-Brimer (Fjollsvinnsmal). These circum- 
stances refer to Mimer. So also Sigrdrifumal (str. 14), 
where it is said that "Odin stood on the mountain with 
Brimer's sword" (Brimis eggiar}, when Mimer's head 
for the first time talked with him. The expression 
"Brimer's sword" is ambiguous. As a head was once 
used as a weapon against Heimdal, a sword and a head 
can, according to' Skaldskaparmal, be employed as para- 
phrases for each other, whence "Brimer's sword" may be 
the same as "Mimer's head" (Skaldskaparmal 69, Cod. 



H. ; cp. Skaldskaparmal, 8, and Gylfag., 27). Sigrdri- 
fumal certainly also employs the phrase in its literal sense 
of a famous mythological sword, for, in the case in ques- 
tion, it represents Odin as fully armed, with helmet on 
his head; and the most excellent mythological sword, 
according to an added line in strophe 24 of Grimnersmal 
(Cod. A.), bore Brimer's name, just as the same sword 
in the German saga has the name Miminc (Biterolf v. 
176, in Vilkinasaga changed to Mimmung), doubtless 
because it at one time was in Mimer-Nidhad's possession ; 
for the German saga (Biterolf, 157; cp. Vilkinasaga, ch. 
23) remembers that a sword called by Mimer's name was 
the same celebrated weapon as that made by Volund 
(Weiland in Biterolf; Velint in Vilkinasaga), and hence 
the same work of art as that which, according to Vilkina- 
saga, Nidhad captured from him during his stay in Wolf- 



We have seen (Nos. 72, 73) that the mead which was 
brewed from the three subterranean liquids destroys the 
effects of death and gives new vitality to the departed, and 
that the same liquid is absorbed by the roots of the world- 
tree, and in its trunk is distilled into that sap which gives 
the tree eternal life. From the stem the mead rises into 
the foliage of the crown, whose leaves nourish the fair 
giver of "the sparkling drink," in Grimnersmal sym- 
bolised as Heidrun, from the streams of whose teats the 



mead-horns in Asgard are filled for the einherjes. The 
morning dew which falls from Ygdrasil down into the 
dales of the lower world contains the same elements. 
From the bridle of Rimfaxe and from the horses of the 
valkyries some of the same dew also falls in the valleys 
of Midgard (see No. 74). The flowers receive it in their 
chalices, where the bees extract it, and thus is produced 
the earthly honey which man uses, and from which he 
brews his mead (cp. Gylfag., ch. 16). Thus the latter 
too contains some of the strength of Mimer's and Urd's 
fountains (veigar see Nos. 72, 73), and thus it happens 
that it is able to stimulate the mind and inspire poetry and 
song nay, used with prudence, it may suggest excellent 
expedients in important emergencies (cp. Tacitus, Ger- 
mama) . 

Thus the world-tree is^among the Teutons, as it is 
among their kinsmen the Iranians (see below), a mead- 
tree. And so it was called by the latter, possibly also by 
the former. The name miotwdr, with which the world- 
tree is mentioned in Voluspa (2) and whose origin and 
meaning have been so much discussed, is from a mytho- 
logical standpoint satisfactorily explained if we assume 
that an older word, miodvidr, the mead-tree, passed into 
the word similar in sound, mioividr, the tree of fate (from 
miot, measure ; cp. mjotudr in the sense of fate, the power 
which gives measure, and the Anglo-Saxon metod, Old 
Saxon metod, the giver of measure, fate, providence). 

The sap of the world-tree and the veigar of the horn 
of the lower world are not, however, precisely the same 
mead as the pure and undefiled liquid from Mimer's 



fountain, that which Odin in his youth, through self- 
sacrifice, was permitted to taste, nor is it precisely the 
same as that concerning the possession of which the 
powers of mythology long contended, before it finally, 
through Odin's adventures at Suttung's, came to Asgard. 
The episodes of this conflict concerning the mead will 
be given as my investigation progresses, so far as they 
can be discovered. Here we must first examine what the 
heathen records have preserved in regard to the closing 
episode in which the conflict was ended in favour of 
Asgard. What the Younger Edda (Bragaraedur) tells 
about it I must for the present leave entirely unnoticed, 
lest the investigation should go astray and become 
entirely abortive. 

The chief sources are the Havamal strophes 104-110, 
and strophes 13 and 14. Subordinate sources are Grim- 
nersmal (50) and Ynglingatal (15). To this must be 
added half a strophe by Eyvind Skaldaspiller (Skaldska- 
parmal, ch. 2). 

The statements of the chief source have, strange to say, 
been almost wholly unobserved, while the mythologists 
have confined their atention to the later presentation in 
Bragaraedur, which cannot be reconciled with the earlier 
accounts, and which from a mythological standpoint is 
worse than worthless. In 1877 justice was for the first 
time done to Havamal in the excellent analysis of the 
strophes in question made by Prof. M. B. Richert, in his 
"Attempts at explaining the obscure passages not hitherto 
understood in the poetic Edda." 

From Havamal alone we get directly or indirectly the 


The giant Suttung, also called Fjalar, has acquired 
possession of the precious mead for which Odin longs. 
The Asa-father resolves to capture it by cunning. 

There is a feast at Fjalar's. Guests belonging to the 
clan of rimthurses are gathered in his halls (Havamal, 
110). Besides these we must imagine that Suttung- 
Fjalar's own nearest kith and kin are present. The 
mythology speaks of a separate clan entirely distinct from 
the rimthurses, known as Suttungs synir (Alvismal, Skir- 
nersmal; see No. 78), whose chief must be Suttung- 
Fjalar, as his very name indicates. The Suttung kin and 
the rimthurses are accordingly gathered at the banquet 
on the day in question. 

An honoured guest is expected, and a golden high-seat 
prepared for him awaits his arrival. From the continua- 
tion of the story we learn that the expected guest is 
the wooer or betrothed of Suttung-Fjalar's daughter, 
Gunlad. On that night the wedding of the giant's daugh- 
ter is to be celebrated. 

Odin arrives, but in disguise. He is received as the 
guest of honour, and is conducted to the golden high-seat. 
It follows of necessity that the guise assumed by Odin, 
when he descends to the mortal foes of the gods and of 
himself, is that of the expected lover. Who the latter 
was Havamal does not state, unless strophe 110, 5, like 
so many other passages, is purposely ambiguous and con- 
tains his name, a question which I shall consider later. 

After the adventure has ended happily, Odin looks 
back with pleasure upon the success with which he 
assumed the guise of the stranger and played his part 



(str. 107). el keyptz litar hefi ec vel notith: "From 
the well changed exterior I reaped great advantage." 
In regard to the mythological meaning of litr, see No. 95 : 
The expression keyptr litr, which literally means "pur- 
chased appearance," may seem strange, but kaupa means 
not only to "buy," but also to "change," "exchange;" 
kaupa kladum iM einn means "to change clothes with 
some one." Of a queen who exchanged her son with a 
slave woman, it is said that she keyptr um sonu vid am- 
bdtt. But the cause of Odin's joy is not that he success- 
fully carried out a cunning trick, but that he in this way 
accomplished a deed of inestimable value for Asgard and 
for man (str., 107, 4-6), and he is sorry that poor Gun- 
lad's trust in him was betrayed (str. 105). This is a 
characterisation of Odin's personality. 

Nor does Havamal tell us what hinders the real lover 
from putting in his appearance and thwarting Odin's 
plan, while the latter is acting his part; but of this we 
learn something from another source, which we shall 
consider below. 

The adventure undertaken by Odin is extremely dan- 
gerous, and he ran the risk of losing his head (str. 106, 
6). For this reason he has, before entering Suttung- 
Fjalar's halls, secured an egress, through which he must 
be able to fly, and if possible, with the skaldic "mead as his 
booty. There is no admittance for everybody to the 
rocky abode where the mead-treasure so much desired by 
all powers is kept. The dwelling is, as Eyvind tells us, 
situated in an abyss, and the door is, as another record 
tells us, watched. But Odin has let Rate bore ("gnaw") 



a tunnel through the mountain large enough to give him 
room to retire secretly (str. 106). In regard to Rate, 
see No. 82. 

When the pretended lover has seated himself in the 
golden high-seat, a conversation begins around the ban- 
quet table. It is necessary for Odin to guard well his 
words, for he represents another person, well known 
there, and if he is not cautious he may be discovered. It 
is also necessary to be eloquent and winning, so that he 
may charm Gunlad and secure her devotion, for without 
her knowledge he cannot gain his end, that of carrying 
away the supply of inspiration-mead kept at Suttung's. 
Odin also boasts (str. 103, 104) that on this occasion he 
proved himself minnigr and mdlugr and margfrodr and 
eloquent for the realisation of his plan. 

During the progress of the feast the guest had his 
glass filled to his honour with the precious mead he 
desired to obtain. "Gunlad gave me on the golden seat 
the drink of the precious mead" (str. 105). 

Then the marriage ceremony was performed, and on 
the holy ring Gunlad took to Odin the oath of faith- 
fulness (str. 110). 

It would have been best for the Asa-father if the ban- 
quet had ended here, and the bridegroom and the bride 
had been permitted to betake themselves to the bridal 
chamber. But the jolly feast is continued and the horns 
are frequently filled and emptied. Havamal does not 
state that the part played by Odin required him to be 
continually drinking; but we shall show that Gunlad's 
wooer was the champion drinker of all mythology, and in 



the sagas he has many epithets referring to this quality. 
Odin became on his own confession "drunk, very drunk, 
at Fjalar's." "The hern of forgetfulness which steals 
one's wit and understanding hovers over his drink" (str. 
13, 15). 

In this condition he let drop words which were not 
those of caution words which sowed the seed of suspi- 
cion in the minds of some of his hearers who were less 
drunk. He dropped words which were not spelt with 
letters of intelligence and good sense words which did 
not suit the part he was playing. 

At last the banquet comes to an end, and the bride- 
groom is permitted to be alone with the bride in that 
rocky hall which is their bed-chamber. There is no doubt 
that Odin won Gunlad's heart, "the heart of that good 
woman whom I took in my embrace" (str. 108). With 
her help he sees his purpose attained and the mead in his 
possession. But the suspicions which his reckless words 
had sown bear fruit in the night, and things happen which 
Havamal does not give a full account of, but of a kind 
which would have prevented Odin from getting out of 
the giant-gard, had he not had Gunlad's assistance (str. 
108). Odin was obliged to fight and rob Gunlad of a 
kinsman (str. 110 hann let gr&tta Gurtnlodu', see Rich., 
p. 17). Taking the supply of mead with him, he takes 
flight by the way Rate had opened for him a dangerous 
way, for "above and below me were the paths of the 
giants" (str. 106). 

It seems to have been the custom that the wedding 
guests on the morning of the next day went to the door 



of the bridal-chamber to hear how the newly-married man 
was getting on in his new capacity of husband. Accord- 
ing to Havamal, Suttung's guests, the rimthurses, observe 
this custom; but the events of the night change their 
inquires into the question whether Odin had succeeded in 
escaping to the gods or had been slain by Suttung (str. 
109, 110). 

Thus far Havamal. We must now examine Grimners- 
mal (150) and Ynglingatal (15), whose connection with 
the myth concerning Odin's exploit in the home of Sut- 
tung-Fjalar has not hitherto been noticed. 

Odin says in Grimnersmal : 

Svitharr oc Svithrir 

er ec het at Sauccmimis 

oc dultha ec thann inn aldna iotun, 

tha er ec Mithvithnis varc 

ins maera burar 

ordinn einbani. 

"Svidur and Svidrir I was called at Sokmimer's, and I 
presented myself to the ancient giant, at the time when I 
alone became the slayer of Midvitnir's famous son." 

Ynglingatal (15) reads: 

En Dagskjarr 
Durnis nidja 
Svegdi velti, 
tha er i stein 
hinn storgedi 
Dulsa konr 
ept dvergi hljop, 

20 *** 


ok sal bjartr 
theirra Sokkmimis 
vid jofri gein. 

"The day-shy hall-guard of Durnir's descendants deceived 
Svegdir when he, the dauntless son of Dulsi, ran after the 
dwarf into the rock, and when the shining giant-inhabited 
hall oi Sokkmimir' s kinsmen yawned against the chief." 
(In regard to Dulsi, see No. 83). 

What attracts attention in a comparison of these two 
strophes is that the epithet Sokkmimir is common to both 
of them, while this name does not occur elsewhere in 
the whole Old Norse literature. 

In both the strophes Sokkmimir is a giant. Grimners- 
mal calls him inn aldna iotun, "the ancient giant," with 
which we may compare Odin's words in Havamal (104) : 
enn aldna iotun ec sotta, "the ancient giant I sought," 
when he visited that giant-chief, to whose clan Suttung- 
Fjalar, the possessor of the skald-mead, belonged. 

In both the strophes the giant Sokkmimir is the lord 
and chief of those giants to whom, according to Grim- 
nersmal, Odin comes, and outside of whose hall-door, 
according to Ynglingatal, a certain Svegdir is deceived 
by the ward of the hall. This position of Sokkmimir 
in relation to his surroundings already appears, so far as 
Grimnersmal is concerned, from the expression at Saucc- 
mimis, which means not only "with Sokmimer," but also 
"at Sokmimer's," that is to say, with that group of kins- 
men and in that abode where Sokmimer is chief and 
ruler. It is with this giant-chief, and in his rocky hall, 



that Midvitnir and his son sojourns when Odin visits 
him, presents himself to him, and by the name Svidur 
(Svidrir} acts the part of another person, and in this 
connection causes Midvitner's death. The same quality 
of Sokmimer as clan-chief and lord appears in the Yng- 
lingatal strophe, in the form that the hall, outside of 
whose door Svegder was deceived, is tfoirra Sokkmimis, 
that is to say, is the abode of Sokmimer's kinsmen and 
household, "is their giant-home." Thus all the giants 
who dwell there take their clan-name from Sokmimer. 

The appellation Sokkmimir is manifestly not a name in 
the strictest sense, but one of the epithets by which this 
ancient giant-chief could be recognised in connection with 
mythological circumstances. We shall point out these 
mythological circumstances further on. 

The Ynglingatal strophe gives us, in fact, another 
epithet for the same mythic person. What the latter half 
of the strophe calls the hall of Sokmimer's kinsmen and 
household, the former half of the same strophe calls the 
hall of Durnir's descendants. Thus Sokmimer and Dur- 
nir are the same person. 

Durnir, on the other hand, is a variation of Durinn 
(cp. the parallel variations Dvalnir and DvoKnri). Of 
Durinn we already know (see No. 53) that he is one of 
the ancient beings of mythology who in time's morning, 
together with Modsognir-Mimer and in accordance with 
the resolve of the high-holy powers, created clans of 
artists. One of the artists created by Durin, and whose 
father he in this sense became, is, according to Voluspa 
(11), Mjodvitmr. Rask and Egilsson have for philo- 



logical reasons assumed that Midvitnir and Mjodvitmr 
are variations of the same name, and designate the same 
person (mjodr, in the dative midi). It here appears that 
the facts confirm this assumption. Durinn and Mjodvit- 
nir, in Voluspa correspond to Durnir and Midvitnir in 
the strophes concerning Sokkmimir. 

Mjodvitnir means the mead-wolf, he who captured the 
mead celebrated in mythology. As Odin, having assumed 
the name of another, visits the abode of the descendants 
of Durner-Sokmimer, he accordingly visits that rocky 
home, where that giant dwells who has secured and 
possesses the mead desired by Odin. 

Ynglingatal reports, as we have seen, that a certain 
Svegdir was deceived, when he was outside of the door 
of the hall of the kinsmen of Durner-Sokmimer. He who 
deceived him was the doorkeeper of the hall. The door 
appeared to be already open, and the "giant-inhabited" 
hall "yawned" festively illuminated (bjartr) toward 
Svegder. If we may believe Ynglingatal's commentary 
on the strophe, the hall-ward had called to him and said 
that Odin was inside. The strophe represents Svegder 
as running after the hall-ward, that is to say, toward the 
door in the rock, eager to get in. What afterwards 
happened Ynglingatal does not state; but that Svegder 
did not gain the point he desired, but fell into some snare 
laid by the doorkeeper, follows from the expression that 
he was deceived by him, and that this caused his death 
follows from the fact that the purpose of the strophe is 
to tell how his life ended. Ynglingasaga says that he 
got into the rock, but never out of it. The rest that this 



saga has to say of Svegder that he was on a journey 
to the old Asgard in "Tyrkland," to find "Odin the old," 
Gylfaginning's King Priam has nothing to do with the 
mythology and with Ynglingatal, but is of course import- 
ant in regard to the Euhemeristic hypothesis in regard to 
the descent of the Asas from Tyrkland (Troy), on which 
the author of Ynglingatal, like that of Gylfaginning, bases 
his work. 

The variations Svegdir, Svidgir, and Sveigdir are used 
interchangeably in regard to the same person (cp. Yng- 
lingatal, 14, 15 ; Fornald., ii. 2 ; Fornm., i. 39 ; and Egils- 
son, 796, 801). Svigdir seems to be the oldest of these 
forms. The words means the great drinker (Egilsson, 
801). Svigdir was one of the most popular heroes of 
mythology (see the treatise on the "Ivalde race"), and 
was already in heathen times regarded as a race-hero of 
the Swedes. In Ynglingatal (14) Svithiod is called 
geiri Svigdis, "Svigdir's domain." At the same time, 
Svegdir is an epithet of Odin. But it should be borne 
in mind that several of the names by which Odin is 
designated belong to him only in a secondary and trans- 
ferred sense, and he has assumed them on occasions when 
he did not want tb be recognised, and wanted to represent 
some one else (cp. Grimnersm., 49) whose name he then 

When Odin visits the abode of Durinn-Sokkmimir, 
where the precious mead is preserved, he calls himself, 
according to Grimnersmal, Svidurr, Svidrir. Now it is 
the case with this name as with Svigdir, that it was con- 
nected with Svithiod. Skaldskaparmal (65) says that 



Svithiod vcvr kallat af nafni Svidurs, "Svithiod was named 
after the name of Svidur." 

Hence (1) the name Svidurr, like Svegdir-Svigdir, 
belongs to Odin, but only in a secondary sense, as one 
assumed or borrowed from another person; (2) Svidurr, 
like Svegdir-Svigdir, was originally a mythic person, 
whom tradition connected as a race hero with Svithiod. 

From all this it appears that the names, facts, and the 
chain of events connect partly the strophes of Grimners- 
mal and Ynglingatal with each other, and partly both of 
these with Havamal's account of Odin's adventure to se- 
cure the mead, and this connection furnishes indubitable 
evidence that they concern the same episode in the myth- 
ological epic. 

In the mythic fragments handed down to our time are 
found other epithets, which like Svigdir, refer to some 
mythical person who played the part of a champion 
drinker, and was connected with the myth concerning 
mead and brewing. These epithets are Olvaldi, Olmodr, 
and Suwibl finnakonungr, Sumblus phinnorum rex in 
Saxo. Sumbl, as a common noun, means ale, feast. In 
the "Finn-king" Sumbl these ideas are personified, just 
as the soma-drink in the Veda songs is personified in King 
Soma. In my treatise on the Ivalde race, I shall revert 
to the person who had these epithets, in order to make his 
mythological position clear. Here I shall simply point 
out the following: Havamal (110) makes one of the 
rimthurses, Suttung's guests, say: 

Baugeith Odinn 
hygg ec at unnit hafi; 



hvat seal hans trygdom trua? 
Suttung svikinn 
ban let sumbli fra 
oc graetta Gunnlaudo. 

The strophe makes the one who says this blame Odin 
for breaking the oath he took on the ring, and thus show- 
ing himself unworthy of being trusted in the promises 
and oaths he might give in the future, whereupon it is 
stated that he left Suttung deceitfully robbed of sumbl 
(Sumbl), and Gunlad in tears over a lost kinsman. 

The expression that Suttung was deceitfully robbed of 
sumbl, to be intelligible, requires no other interpretation 
than the one which lies near at hand, that Suttung was 
treacherously deprived of the mead. But as the skald 
might have designated the drink lost by Suttung in a more 
definite manner than with the word sumbl, and as he still 
chose this word, which to his hearers, familiar with the 
mythology, must have called to mind the personal Sumbl 
(Olvaldi Svlgdir}, it is not only possible, but, as it seems 
to me, even probable, that he purposely chose an ambigu- 
ous word, and wanted thereby to refer at the same time to 
the deceitfully captured mead, and to the intended son- 
in-law deceitfully lost ; and this seems to me to be corrob- 
orated by the juxtaposition of Suttung's and Gunlad's 
loss. The common noun sumbl's double meaning as 
mead and "drink-feast" has also led M. B. Richert (page 
14 in his treatise mentioned above) to assume that "the 
expression was purposely chosen in such a manner that the 
meaning should not be entirely limited and definite," and 
he adds : "A similar indefiniteness of statement, which 



may give rise to abiguity and play of words, is frequently 
found in the old songs." Meanwhile, I do not include this 
probability in my evidence, and do not present it as the 
basis of any conclusions. 

The name Suttung shows in its very form that it is a 
patronymic, and although we can furnish no linguistic 
evidence that the original form was Surtungr and charac- 
terised its possessor as son of Surtr, still there are other 
facts which prove that such was actually the case. The 
very circumstance that the skaldic drink which came into 
Suttung's possession is paraphrased with the expression 
sylgr Surfs attar, "the drink of Surt's race" (Forn- 
manna, iii. 3), points that way and the question is settled 
completely by the half-strophe quoted in the Younger 
Edda (i. 242), and composed by Eyvind Skaldaspiller, 
where the skaldic potion is called 

hinn er Surts 
or sokkdolum 
fljugandi bar. 

("the drink, which Odin flying bore from Surt's deep 

When Odin had come safely out of Fjalar-Suttung's 
deep rocky halls, and, on eagle-pinions, was flying with 
the precious mead to Asgard, it was accordingly that 
deep, in which Surtr dwells, which he left below him, and 
the giant race who had been drinking the mead before 
that time, while it was still in Suttung's possession, was 
Surt's race. From this it follows that "the ancient giant," 
whom Odin visited for the purpose of robbing his circle 



of kinsmen of the skaldic mead, is none other than that 
being so well known in the mythology, Surtr, and that 
Surtr is identical with Durinn (Durnir), and Sokkmimir. 

This also explains the epithet Sokkmimir, "the Mimer 
of the deep." S'okk- in Sokk-Mimir refers to Sdkk in 
Sdkkdalir, Surt's domain, and that Surt could be asso- 
ciated with Mimer is, from the standpoint of Old Norse 
poetics, perfectly justifiable from the fact that he appears 
in time's morning as a co-worker with Mimer, and 
operating with him as one of the forces of creation in the 
service of the oldest high-holy powers (see No. 53). 
Consequently Mimer and Sokmimer (Surtr-Durinn) 
created the clans of artists. 

Surtr, Durinn, Durnir, Sokkmimir, are, therefore, 
synonyms, and designate the same person. He has a son 
who is designated by the synonyms Suttungr, Fjalarr, 
Mj&dvitnir (Midvitnir). Suttung has a son slain by 
Odin, when the latter robs him of the mead of inspiration, 
and a daughter, Gunlad. The giant maid, deceived and 
deplored by Odin, is consequently the daughter of Surt's 

Light is thus shed on the myth concerning the giant 
who reappears in Ragnarok, and there wields the sword 
which fells Frey and hurls the flames which consume the 
world. It is found to be connected with the myth con- 
cerning the oldest events of mythology. In time's morn- 
ing we find the fire-being Surt the representative of 
subterranean fire as a creative force by the side of 
Mimer, who is a friend of the gods, and whose kinsman 
he must be as a descendant of Ymer. Both work 



together in peace for similar purposes and under the direc- 
tion of the gods (Voluspa, 9, 10). But then something 
occurs which interrupts the amicable relations. Mimer 
and Surt no longer work together. The fountain of 
creative force, the mead of wisdom and inspiration, is in 
the exclusive possession of Mimer, and he and Urd are 
together the ruling powers in the lower world. The 
fire-giant, the primeval artist, is then with his race 
relegated to the "deep dales," situated to the southward 
(Voluspa, 52), difficult of access, and dangerous for the 
gods to visit, and presumably conceived as located deeper 
down than the lower world governed by Mimer and Urd. 
That he tried to get possesion of a part of "Odrarir" 
follows from the position he afterwards occupies in the 
myth concerning the mead. When daylight again falls on 
him from the mythic fragments extant, his son has cap- 
tured and is in possession of a supply of mead, which 
must originally have come from Mimer's fountain, and 
been chiefly composed of its liquid, for it is skaldic mead, 
it too, and can also be designated as Odrczrir (Havamal, 
107), while the son is called "the mead-wolf," the one 
who has robbed and conceals the precious drink. Odin 
captures his mead by cunning, the grandson of the fire- 
giant is slain, the devoted love of the son's daughter is 
betrayed, and the husband selected for her is deceived 
and removed. All this, though done for purposes to 
benefit gods and men, demands and receives in the mytho- 
logy its terrible retribution. It is a trait peculiar to the 
whole Teutonic mythology that evil deeds, with a good 
purpose, even when the object is attained, produce evil 



results, which develop and finally smother the fruits of 
the good purpose. Thus Surt has a reason for appearing 
in Ragnarok as the annihilator of the world of the Asas, 
when the latter is to make room for a realm of justice. 
The flames of revenge are hurled upon creation. 

I have already above (No. 87), had occasion to speak 
of the choicest sword of mythology, the one which 
Volund smithied and Mimer captured, and which was 
fetched from the lower world by a hero whose name 
Saxo Latinised into Hotherus. In my treatise on "the 
Ivalde, race" it shall be demonstrated who this Hotherus 
was in mythology, and that the sword was delivered by 
him to Frey. Lokasenna (42; cp. Gylfag., 37), informs 
us that the lovesick Frey gave the sword to the giant 
Gymer for his bride. After coming into the hands of the 
giants it is preserved and watched over until Ragnarok by 
Hggther (an epithet meaning sword-watcher), who in 
the Ironwood is the shepherd of the monster herd of 
Loke's progeny, which in the last days shall harry the 
world and fight in Ragnarok (Voluspa, 39-41). When 
Ragnarok is at hand a giant comes to this sword-watcher 
in the guise of the red cock, the symbol of the destructive 
fire. This giant is Fjalar (Voluspa, 41), and that the 
purpose of his visit is to secure the sword follows from 
the fact that the best sword of mythology is shortly after- 
wards in the hands of his father Surt (Voluspa, 50) when 
the latter comes from the south with his band (the sons 
of Suttung, not of Muspel) to take part in the last con- 
flict and destroy with fire that part of the world that 
can be destroyed. Frey is slain by the sword which was 
once his own. 


In this manner the myth about the mead and that about 
the Volund sword are knit together. 

Thor, too, ventured to visit Fjalar's abode. In regard 
to this visit we have a few words in strophe 26 of Har- 
bardsljod. Harbardr accuses Thor, no doubt unjustly, 
of having exhibited fear. Of this matter we have no 
reliable details in the records from heathendom, but a 
comparison of the above strophe of Harbardsljod with 
Gylfaginning shows that the account compiled in Gylfa- 
ginning from various mythic fragments concerning Thor's 
journey to Utgarda-Loke and his adventures there con- 
tains reminiscences of what the original myths have had 
to say about his experience on his expedition to Fjalar's. 
The fire-giant natures of Surt and of his son Fjalar gleam 
forth in the narrative: the ruler of Utgard can produce 
earthquakes, and Loge (the flame) is his servant. It is 
also doubtless correct, from a mythical standpoint, that 
he is represented as exceedingly skilful in "deluding," in 
giving things the appearance of something else than they 
really are (see No. 39). When Odin assumed the guise of 
Fjalar's son-in-law, he defeated Surt's race with their 
own weapons. 

Eyvind Skaldaspiller states, as we have seen, that 
Surt's abode is in dales down in the deep. From an 
expression in Ynglingasaga's strophe we must draw the 
conclusion that its author, in harmony herewith, conceived 
the abyss where Surt's race dwelt as regions to which 
the light of day never comes. Sokmimer's door-keeper, 
one of whose tasks it was to take notice of the wayfarers 
who approached, is a day-shy dwarf (dagskjarr salvor- 



dudr; in regard to dwarfs that shun the light of day, see 
Alvissmal). Darkness therefore broods over this region, 
but in the abode of the fire-giant it is light (the hall is 

I now return to the episodes in the mead-myth under 
discussion to recapitulate in brief the proofs and results. 
If we for a moment should assume that the main source, 
namely, the Havamal strophes, together with Eyvind's 
half strophe, were lost, and that the only remaining 
evidences were Grimnersmal (50) and Ynglingatal (15), 
together with the prose text in Ynglingasaga, then an 
analysis of these would lead to the following result: 

(1) Grimnersmal (50) and Ynglingatal (15) should 
be compared with each other. The reasons for assuming 
them to be intrinsically connected are the folowing: 

(a) Both contain the epithet Sokkmimir, which occurs 
nowhere else. 

(6) Both describe a primeval giant, who is designated 
by this epithet as chief and lord of a giant race gathered 
around him. 

(c) Both refer the events described to the same local- 
ity : the one tells what occurred in the halls of Sokkmimir; 
the other narrates an episode which occurred outside of 
the door of Sokmimer's giant abode. 

(rf) The one shows that Sokmimer is identical with 
Durnir (Durin) ; the other mentions Midvitnir as one of 
Sokmimer's subjects. Midvitnir (Mjodvitnir}, accord- 
ing to Voluspa, was created by Durinn. 

(?) Both describe events occuring while Odin is inside 
at Sokmimer's. 



(/) The one mentions Svidurr, the other Svegdir. 
Mythologically, the two names refer to each other. 

(2) To the giant group which Odin visits in the abode 
of Sokkmimir belongs the giant who captured the famous 
mead which Odin is anxious to secure. This appears 
from the epithet which the author of the Grimnersmal 
strophe chose in order to designate him in such a manner 
that he could be recognised, namely, Midvitnir, "the mead- 
wolf," an epithet which explains why the mead-thirsty 
Odin made his journey to this race hostile to the gods. 

(3) That Odin did not venture, or did not think it 
desirable in connection with the purpose of his visit, to 
appear in his own name and in a guise easily recognised, 
is evident from the fact that he "disguised" himself, 
"acted the hypocrite" (dulda), in the presence of the 
giant, and appeared as another mythic person, Svidurr. 

This mythic person has been handed down in the tradi- 
tions as the one who gave the name to Svithiod, and as 
a race-hero of the Swedes. Svithiod var kallat af nafni 

(4) While Odin, in the guise of this race-hero, plays 
his part in the mountain in the abode of Sokmimer, a 
person arrives at the entrance of the halls of this giant. 
This person, Svegdir (Svigdir), is in the sagas called the 
race-hero of the Swedes, and after him they have called 
Svithiod geiri Svigdis. Odin, who acted Svidurr's part, 
has also been called Svigdir, Svegdir. 

Svigdir is an epithet, and means "the champion drinker" 
(Anglo-Saxon swig: to drink deep draughts). "The 
champion drinker" is accordingly on his way to the 



"Mead-wolf," while Odin is in his abode. All goes to 
show that the event belongs to the domain of the mead- 

Accordingly, the situation is this: A pretended race- 
hero and namer of Svithiod is in the abode of Sokmimer, 
while a person who, from a mythological standpoint, is the 
real race-hero and namer of Svithiod is on his way to 
Sokmimer's abode and about to enter. The myth could 
not have conceived the matter in this way, unless the 
pretended race-hero was believed to act the part of the 
real one. The arrival of the real one makes Odin's 
position, which was already full of peril, still more 
dangerous, and threatens him with discovery and its con- 

(5) If Odin appeared in the part of a "champion 
drinker," he was compelled to drink much in Sokmimer's 
halls in order to maintain his part, and this, too, must 
have added to the danger of his position. 

( 6 ) Still the prudent Asa-father seems to have observed 
some degree of caution, in order that his plans might not 
be frustrated by the real Svigdir. That which happens 
gives the strongest support to this supposition, which in 
itself is very probable. Sokmimer's doorkeeper keeps 
watch in the darkness outside. When he discovers the 
approach of Svigdir, he goes to meet him and informs 
him that Odin is inside. Consequently the doorkeeper 
knows that Svidurr is Odin, who is unknown to all those 
within excepting to Odin himself. This and what follows 
seems to show positively that the wise Odin and the 
cunning dwarf act upon a settled plan. It may be delu- 



sion or reality, but Svigdir sees the mountain door open 
to the illuminated giant-hall, and the information that 
Odin is within (the dwarf may or may not have added 
that Odin pretends to be Svigdir} causes him, the "proud 
one," "of noble race," the kinsman of Dulsi (epithet of 
Mundilfore, see No. 83), to rush with all his might 
after the dwarf against the real or apparent door, and the 
result is that the dwarf succeeded in "deceiving" him 
(he velti Svegder), so that he never more was seen. 

This is what we learn from the strophes in Grim- 
nersmal and Ynglingatal, with the prose text of the 
latter. If we now compare this with what Havamal and 
Eyvind relates, we get the following parallels : 

Havamal and Eyvind. 

Odin visits inn aldna iotum 
(Surtr and his race). 

Odin's purpose is to deceive 
the old giant. In his abode is 
found a kinsman, who is in 
possession of the skaldic 
mead (Suttung-Fjalar). 

Odin appears in the guise 
of Gunlad's wooer, who, 'if he 
is named, is called Sumbl 
(sumbl=a drink, a feast). 

Odin became drunk. 

A catastrophe occurs caus- 
ing Gunnlod to bewail the 
death of a kinsman. 

The strophes about 

Odin visits inn aldna iotun 
(Sokkmimir and his race). 

Odin's purpose is to deceive 
the old giant. In his abode is 
found a kinsman who is in 
possession of the skaldic 
mead (Midvitnir). 

Odin appears as Svidurr- 
Svigdir. Svigdir means the 
champion drinker. 

Odin must have drunk 
much, since he appears among 
the giants as one acting the 
part of a "champion drinker." 

A catastrophe occurs caus- 
ing Odin to slay Midvitnir's 



To this is finally to be added that Eyvind's statement, 
that the event occurred in Surt's Sokkdalir, helps to throw 
light on Surt's epithet Sokkmimir, and particularly that 
Ynglingatal's account of the arrival and fate of the real 
Svegder fills a gap in Havamal's narrative, and shows 
how Odin, appearing in the guise of another person who 
was expected, could do so without fear of being surprised 
by the latter. 

NOTE. The account in the Younger Edda about Odin's 
visit to Suttung seems to be based on some satire pro- 
duced long after the introduction of Christianity. With 
a free use of the confused mythic traditions then extant, 
and without paying any heed to Havamal's statement, 
this satire was produced to show in a semi-allegorical 
way how good and bad poetry originated. The author 
of this satire either did not know or did not care about the 
fact that Havamal identifies Suttung and Fjalar. To 
him they are different persons, of whom the one receives 
the skaldic mead as a ransom from the other. While in 
Havamal the rimthurses give Odin the name Bolverkr, 
"the evil-doer," and this very properly from their stand- 
point, the Younger Edda makes Odin give himself this 
name when he is to appear incognito, though such a name 
was not calculated to inspire confidence. While in Hava- 
mal Odin, in the guise of another, enters Suttung's halls, 
is conducted to a golden high-seat, and takes a lively part 
in the banquet and in the conversation, the Younger Edda 
makes him steal into the mountain through a small gimlet- 
hole and get down into Gunlad's chamber in this manner, 
where he remains the whole time without seeing anyone 




else of the people living there, and where, with Gtmlad's 
consent, he empties to the bottom the giant's three mead- 
vessels, Odrarir, Bodn, and Son. These three names 
belong, as we have seen, in the real mythology to the 
three subterranean fountains which nourish the roots of 
the world-tree. Havamal contents itself with using a 
poetic-rhetorical phrase and calling the skaldic mead, 
captured by Odin, Odr&rir, "the giver of inspiration," 
"the inspiring nectar." The author of the satire avails 
himself of this reason for using the names of the two 
other fountains Bodn and Son, and for applying them to 
two other "vessels and kettles" in which Suttung is said 
to have kept the mead. That he called one of the vessels 
a kettle is explained by the fact that the third lower 
world fountain is Hvergehnir, "the roaring kettle." In 
order that Odin and Gunlad may be able to discuss and 
resolve in perfect secrecy in regard to the mead, Odin 
must come secretly down into the mountain, hence the 
satire makes him use the bored hole to get in. From the 
whole description in Havamal, it appears, on the contrary, 
that Odin entered the giant's hall in the usual manner 
through the door, while he avails himself of the tunnel 
made by Rate to get out. Havamal first states that Odin 
seeks the giant, and then tells how he enters into conversa- 
tion and develops his eloquence in Suttung's halls, and 
how, while he sits in the golden high-seat (probably 
opposite the host, as Richter has assumed), Gunlad hands 
him the precious mead. Then is mentioned for the first 
time the way made for him by Rate, and this on the one 
hand in connection with the "evil compensation" Gunlad 



received from him, she the loving and devoted woman 
whom he had embraced, and on the other hand in con- 
nection with the fact that his flight from the mountain 
was successful, so that he could take the mead with him 
though his life was in danger, and there were giants' 
ways both above and below that secret path by which he 
escaped. That Odin took the oath of faithfulness on the 
holy ring, that there was a regular wedding feast with the 
questions on the next morning in regard to the well-being 
of the newly-married couple all this the satire does not 
mention, nor does its premises permit it to do so. 



Before the skaldic mead came into the possession of 
Suttung-Fjalar, it had passed through various adventures. 
In one of these enters Mdni, the god of the moon, who by 
the names Nokkvi (variation Nokkver), Nefr (variation 
Nepr), and Gevarr (Gosvarr'} occupies a very conspicu- 
ous position in our mythology, not least in the capacity of 
Nanna's father. 

I shall here present the proofs which lie near at hand, 
and can be furnished without entering into too elaborate 
investigations, that the moon-god and Nanna's father are 
identical, and this will give me an opportunity of refer- 
ring to that episode of the mead-myth, in which he ap- 
pears as one of the actors. 



The identity of Nokkvi, Nefr, and Gevarr appears from 
the following passages : 

(1) Hyndluljod, 20: "Nanna was, in the next place, 
Nokkvi' s daughter" (Nanna var n<zst thar Nauckua 
dottvr) . 

(2) Gylfaginning, 32: "The son of Balder and of 
Nanna, daughter of Nef, was called Forsete" (Forseti 
heiter sonr Baldrs ok Nonnu Nefsdottur). Gylfagin- 
ning, 49 : "His (Balder's) wife Nanna, daughter of Nef" 
(Kona hans Nanna Nefsdottir). 

(3) Saxo, Hist., Dan., iii. : "Gevarr' s daughter Nanna" 
(Gevari -filia Nanna). That Saxo means the mythologi- 
cal Nanna follows from the fact that Balder appears in 
the story as her wooer. That the Norse form of the 
name, which Saxo Latinised into Gevarus, was Gevarr, 
not Gefr, as a prominent linguist has asssumed, follows 
from the rules adopted by Saxo in Latinising Norse 

NOTE. Names of the class to which Gefr would 
belong, providing such a name existed, would be Latinised 
in the following manner : 

(a) Askr Ascerus, Baldr Balderus, Geldr Gelderus, 
Glaumr Glomerus, Hodr, Hadr, Odr, Hotherus, Hath- 
erus, Hotherus, Svipdagr Svipdagerus, Ullr Ollerus, Yggr 
Uggerus, Vigr Vigerus. 

(6) Asmundr Asmundus, Amundr Amundus, Arn- 
grimr Arngrimus, Bildr Bildus, Knutr Canutus, Fridleifr 
Fridlevus, Gautrekr Gotricus, Godmundr Guthmundus, 
Haddingr Hadingus, Haraldr Haraldus. 

Names ending in -arr are Latinised in the following 
manner: 6;o 


(a) Borgarr Borcarus, Einarr Enarus, Gunnarr Gun- 
narus, Hjorvarr Hjartvarus, Ingimarr Ingimarus, Ingvarr 
Ingvarus, Ismarr Ismarus, Ivarr Ivarus, Ottarr Otharus, 
Rostarr Rostarus, Sigarr Sigarus, Sivarr Sivarus, Vakdi- 
marr Valdemarus. 

(&) Agnarr Agnerus, Ragnarr Regnerus. 

With the ending -arms occurs also in a single instance 
a Norse name in -4, namely, Eylimi Olimarus. Herewith 
we might perhaps include Liotarus, the Norse form of 
which Saxo may have had in Ljoti from Ljotr. Other- 
wise Ljotr is a single exception from the rules followed 
by Saxo, and methodology forbids our building any thin o 1 
on a single exception, which moreover is uncertain. 

Some monosyllabic names ending in -r are sometimes 
unlatinised, as Alf, Ulf, Sten, Ring, Rolf, and sometimes 
Latinised with -o, as Alvo, Ulvo, Steno, Ringo, Rolvo, 
Alfr is also found Latinised as Alverus. 

From the above lists of names it follows that Saxo's 
rules for Latinising Norse names ending with the nomina- 
tive -r after a consonant were these : 

(1) Monosyllabic names (seldom a dissyllabic one, as 
Svipdagr} are Latinised with the ending -erus or the 
ending -o. 

(2) Names of two or more syllables which do not end 
in -arr (rarely a name of one syllable, as Bildr) are 
Latinised with the ending -us. 

(3) Names ending in -arr are Latinised with -arus-, in 
a few cases (and then on account of the Danish pronun- 
ciation) with -erus. 

From the above rules it follows (1) that Gefr, if such a 



name existed, would have been Latinised by Saxo either 
into Gezrerus, Ge ferns, or into Gevo, Gefo; (2) that 
Gevarr is the regular Norse for Gevarus. 

The only possible meaning of the name Gevarr, con- 
sidered as a common noun is "the ward of the atmosphere" 
from ge (g&; see Younger Edda, ii. 486, and Egilsson, 
227) and -varr. I cite this definition not for the purpose 
of drawing any conclusions therefrom, but simply because 
it agrees with the result reached in another way. 

The other name of Nanna's father is, as we have seen, 
Nokkvi, Nokkver. This word means the ship-owner, 
ship-captain. If we compare these two names, Gevarr 
and Nokkver, with each other, then it follows from the 
comparison that Nanna's father was a mythic person who 
operated in the atmosphere or had some connection with 
certain phenomena in the air, and particularly in connec- 
tion with a phenomenon there of such a kind that the 
mythic fancy could imagine a ship. The result of the 
comparison should be examined in connection with a 
strophe by Thorbjorn Hornklofve, which I shall now con- 

Thorbjorn was the court-skald of Harald Fairfax, and 
he described many of the king's deeds and adventures. 
Harald had at one time caused to be built for himself 
and his body-guard a large and stately ship, with a 
beautiful figure-head in the form of a serpent. On board 
this ship he was overtaken by a severe gale, which Horn- 
klofve (Harald Harfager's saga, ch. 9) describes in the 
following words : 



Ut a mar maetir 
mannsksedr lagar tanna 
rsesinadr til rausnar 
rak vebrautar Nokkva. 

In prose order : Lagar tanna mannsk&dr matir ut a mar 
rak rausnar rcesinadr til Nokkva vebrautar ("The assail- 
ants of the skerry (the teeth of the sea), dangerous to 
man, flung out upon the sea the splendid serpent of the 
vessel's stem to the holy path of Nokve"). 

All interpreters agree that by "the skerry's assailants, 
dangerous to man," is meant the waves which are pro- 
duced by the storm and rush against the skerries in 
breakers dangerous to seamen. It is also evident that 
Hornklofve wanted to depict the violence of the sea when 
he says that the billows which rise to assail the skerry 
tosses the ship, so that the figure-head of the stem 
reaches "the holy path of Nokve." Poems of different 
literatures resemble each other in their descriptions of a 
storm raging at sea. They make the billows rise to "the 
clouds," to "the stars," or to "the moon." Quanti monies 
volvuntur aquarum! Jam, jam tactdros sidera summa 
putes, Ovid sings (Trist., i. 18, 19) ; and Virgil has it: 
Procella fluctus ad sidera tollit (^En., i. 107). One of 
their brother skalds in the North, quoted in Skaldskapar- 
mal (ch. 61), depicts a storm with the following words: 

Hraud i himin upp glodum 
hafs, gekk saer af afli, 
bor hygg ek at sky skordi, 
skaut Ranar vegr mana. 

The skald makes the phosphorescence of the sea splash 



against heaven ; he makes the ship split the clouds, and the 
way of Ran, the giantess of the sea, cut the path of the 

The question now is, whether Hornklofve by "Nokve's 
holy path" did not mean the path of the moon in space, 
and whether it is not to this path the figure-head of the 
ship seems to pitch when it is lifted on high by the 
towering billows. It is certain that this holy way toward 
which the heaven-high billows lift the ship is situated in 
the atmosphere above the sea, and that Nokve has been 
conceived as travelling this way in a ship, since Nokve 
means the ship-captain. From this it follows that 
Nokve's craft must have been a phenomenon in space 
resembling a ship which was supposed to have its course 
marked out there. We must therefore choose between 
the sun, the moon, and the stars; and as it is the moon 
which, when it is not full, has the form of a ship sailing 
in space, it is more probable that by Nokve's ship is 
meant the moon than that any other celestial body is re- 
ferred to. 

This probability becomes a certainty by the following 
proofs. In Sonatorrek (str. 2, 3) Egil Skallagrimson 
sings that when heavy sorrow oppresses him (who has lost 
his favourite son) then the song does not easily well forth 
from his breast : 

Thagna fundr 
thriggia nidja 
ar borinn 
or Jotunheimum, 



er lifnadi 
a Nokkvers 
nokkva Bragi. 

The skaldic song is here compared with a fountain which 
does not easily gush forth from a sorrowful heart, and the 
liquid of the fountain is compared with the "Thrigge's 
kinsmen's find, the one kept secret, which in times past 
was carried from Jotunheim into Nokve's ship, where 
Brage, unharmed, refreshed himself (secured the vigour 
Of life)." 

It is plain that Egil here refers to a mythic event that 
formed an episode in the myth concerning the skaldic 
mead. Somewhere in Jotunheim a fountain containing 
the same precious liquid as that in Mimer's well has burst 
forth. The vein of the fountain was discovered by kins- 
men of Thrigge, but the precious find eagerly desired by 
all powers is kept secret, presumably in order that they 
who made the discovery might enjoy it undivided and in 
safety. But something happens which causes the treas- 
ure which the fountain gave its discoverers to be carried 
from Jotunheim to Nokve's ship, and there the drink is 
accessible to the gods. It is especially mentioned that 
Brage, the god of poetry, is there permitted to partake of 
it and thus refresh his powers. 

Thus the ship of Nanna's father here reappears, and 
we learn that on its holy way in space in bygone times it 
bore a supply of skaldic mead, of which Brage in the days 
of his innocence drank the strength of life. 

With this we must compare a mythic fragment pre- 


served in Gylfaginning (ch. 11). There a fountain 
called Byrgir is mentioned. Two children, a lass by 
name Bit and a lad by name Hjuki, whose father was 
named Vidfinnr, had come with a pail to this fountain to 
fetch water. The allegory in which the tradition is 
incorporated calls the pail Sagr, "the one seething over its 
brinks," and calls the pole on which the pail is carried 
Simul (according to one manuscript Sumul; cp. Sund, 
brewing ale, mead). Bil, one of the two children is put 
in connection with the drink of poetry. The skalds pray 
that she may be gracious to them . Ef unna itr vildi Bil 
Skdldi, "if the noble Bil will favour the skald," is a wish 
expressed in a strophe in the Younger Edda, ii. 363. 
Byrgir is manifestly a fountain of the same kind as the 
one referred to by Egil and containing the skaldic mead. 
Byrgir 1 's fountain must have been kept secret, it must have 
been a "concealed find," for it is in the night, while the 
moon is up, that Vidfin's children are engaged in filling 
their pail from it. This is evident from the fact that 
Mdni sees the children. When they have filled the pail, 
they are about to depart, presumably to their home, and 
to their father Vidfin. But they do not get home. While 
they carry the pail with the pole on their shoulders Mdni 
takes them unto himself, and they remain with him, 
together with their precious burden. From other mythic 
traditions which I shall consider later (see the treatise 
on the Ivalde race), we learn that the moon-god adopts 
them as his children, and Bil afterwards appears as an 
asynje (Younger Edda, i. 118, 556). 

If we now compare Egil's statement with the mythic 



fragment about Bil and Hjuke, we find in both a fountain 
mentioned which contains the liquid of inspiration found 
in Mimer's fountain, without being Mimer's well-guarded 
or unapproachable "well." In Egil the find is "kept 
secret." In Gylfaginning the children visit it in the 
night. Egil says the liquid was carried from Jotunheim ; 
Gylfaginning says that Bil and Hjuke carried it in a pail. 
Egil makes the liquid transferred from Jotunheim to 
Nokve's ship; Gylfaginning makes the liquid and its 
bearers be taken aloft by the moon-god to the moon, 
where we still, says Gylfaginning, can see Bil and Hjuke 
(in the moon-spots). 

There can therefore be no doubt that Nokve's ship is 
the silvery craft of the moon, sailing in space over sea and 
land on a course marked out for it, and that Nokve is 
the moon-god. As in Rigveda, so in the Teutonic mytho- 
logy, the ship of the moon was for a time the place where 
the liquid of inspiration, the life- and strength-giving 
mead, was concealed. The myth has ancient Aryan roots. 

On the myth concerning the mead-carrying ship, to 
which the Asas come to drink, rests the paraphrase for 
composing, for making a song, which Einar Skalaglam 
once used ( Skaldskaparmal, 1). To make songs he calls 
"to dip liquid out of Her-Tyr's wind-ship" (ausa Hertys 
vingnodar austr; see further No. 121, about Odin's visit 
in Nokve's ship). 

The name Nefr (variation Nepr), the third name of 
Nanna's father mentioned above, occurs nowhere in the 
Norse sources excepting in the Younger Edda. It is, 
however, undoubtedly correct that Nokve-Gevar was also 

called Nef. ,- 



Among all the Teutonic myths there is scarcely one 
other with which so many heroic songs composed in 
heathen times have been connected as with the myth con- 
cerning the moon-god and his descendants. As shall be 
shown further on, the Niflungs are descendants of Nef's 
adopted son Hjuke, and they are originally named after 
their adopted race-progenitor Nefr. A more correct and 
an older form is perhaps Hnefr and Hniflungar, and the 
latter form is also found in the Icelandic literature. In 
Old English the moon-god appears changed into a pre- 
historic king, Hndf, also called Hoce (see Beowulf, 2142, 
and Gleeman's Tale). Hoce is the same name as the 
Norse Hjuki. Thus while Hndf and Hoce are identical 
in the Old English poem "Beowulf," we find in the Norse 
source that the lad taken aloft by Mane is called by one 
of the names of his foster-father. In the Norse account 
the moon-god (Nefr) captures, as we have seen, the 
children of one Vidfinnr, and at the same time he robs 
VidHnnr of the priceless mead of inspiration found in the 
fountain Byrgir. In the Old English saga Hndf has a 
son-in-law and vassal, whose name is Finn (Fin Folcvald- 
ing), who becomes his bitterest foe, contends with him, is 
conquered and pardoned, but attacks him again, and, in 
company with one Gudere (Gunnr), burns him. Accord- 
ing to Saxo, Nanna's father Gevarr has the same fate. 
He is attacked by a vassal and burnt. The vassal is 
called Gunno (Gunnr, Gudere). Thus we have in the 
Old English tradition the names Hndf, Hoce, Fin, and 
Gudere; and in the Norse tradition the corresponding 
names Nefr, Hjuki, Vidfinnr, and Gunnr (Gunnarr). 



The relation of the moon-god ( to Vidfinnr is the 
mythological basis of Fin's enmity to Hndf. The burn- 
ing is common to both the Old English and the Norse 
sources. Later in this work I shall consider these cir- 
cumstances more minutely. What I have stated is suffi- 
cient to show that the Old English tradition is in this 
point connected with the Norse in a manner, which con- 
firms Nefr-Gevarr's identity with Mdni, who takes aloft 
Hjuki and robs Vidfinnr of the skaldic mead. 

The tradition of Gevarr-Nefr's identity with Mdni 
reappears in Iceland once more as late as in Hromund 
Greipson's saga. There a person called Mdni Karl shows 
where the hero of the saga is to find the sword Mistel- 
teinn. In Saxo, Nanna's father Gevarr shows the before- 
mentioned Hotherus where he is to find the weapon 
which is to slay Balder. Thus Mdni in Hromund's saga 
assumes the same position as Gevarr, Nanna's father, 
occupies in Saxo's narative. 

All these circumstances form together a positive proof 
of the moon-god's identity with Nanna's father. Further 
on, when the investigation has progressed to the proper 
point, we shall give reasons for assuming that Vidfinnr 
of the Edda, the Fin of the English heroic poem, is the 
same person whom we have heretofore mentioned by the 
name Sumbl Finnakonungr and Svigdir, and that the 
myth concerning the taking of the mead aloft to the moon 
accordingly has an epic connection with the myth con- 
cerning Odin's visit to the giant Fjalar, and concerning 
the fate which then befell Nokve's slayer. 




The moon-god, like Nat, Dag, and Sol, is by birth and 
abode a lower-world divinity. As such, he too had his 
importance in the Teutonic eschatology. The god who 
on his journeys on "Nokve's holy way" serves auldom at 
drtali (Vafthrudnersmal, 23) by measuring out to men 
time in phases of the moon, in months, and in years 
has, in the mythology also, received a certain influence 
in inflicting suffering and punishment on sinners. He is 
lord of the heiptir, the Teutonic Erinnyes (see No. 75), 
and keeps those limar (bundles of thorns) with which the 
former are armed, and in this capacity he has borne the 
epithet Eylimi, which reappears in the heroic songs in a 
manner which removes all doubt that Nanna's father was 
originally meant. (See in Saxo and in Helge Hjorvard- 
son's saga. To the latter I shall return in the second 
part of this work, and I shall there present evidence that 
the saga is based on episodes taken from the Balder myth, 
and that Helge Hjorvardson is himself an imitation of 
Balder). In this capacity of lord of the Heiptir the 
moon-god is the power to whom prayers are to be 
addressed by those who desire to be spared from those 
sufferings which the Heiptir represent (Heithtom seal 
mdna qvedja Havamal, 137). His quality as the one 
who keeps the thorn-rods of the heiptir still survives in 
a great part of the Teutonic world in the scattered tradi- 
tions about "the man in the moon," who carries bundles 
of thorns on his back (J. Grimm, Myth., 680; see No. 





Thus Nanna is the daughter of the ruler of the moon, 
of "the ward of the atmosphere." This alone indicates 
that she herself was mythologically connected with the 
phenomena which pertain to her father's domain of 
activity, and in all probability was a moon-dis (goddess). 
This assumption is fully confirmed by a contribution to 
Teutonic mythology rescued in Germany, the so-called 
Merseburg formula, which begins as follow: 

Phol ende Uodan Fair and Odin 

vuoron zi holza went to the wood, 

du vart demo Balderes then was the foot sprained 

volon sin vous birenkit on Balder's foal. 

thu biguolon Sinhtgunt. Then sang over him Sinhtgunt, 

Sunna era svister, Sunna her sister, 

thu biguolen Friia, then sang over him Frigg, 

Volla era svister Fulla her sister; 

thu biguolen Uodan then sang over him Odin 

so he wola conda. as best he could. 

Of the names occurring in this strophe Uodan-Odin, 
Balder, Sunna (synonym of Sol Alvissm., 17; Younger 
Edda, i. 472, 593), Friia-Frigg, and Volla-Fulla are well 
known in the Icelandic mythic records. Only Phol and 
Sinhtgunt are strangers to our mythologists, though Phol- 
Falr surely ought not to be so. 

In regard to the German form Phol, we find that it 
has by its side the form Fal in German names of places 
connected with fountains. Jacob Grimm has pointed out 

68 1 


a "Pholes" fountain in Thuringia, a "Fals" fountain in 
the Prankish Steigerwald, and in this connection a 
"Balder" well in Rheinphaltz. In the Danish popular 
traditions Balder's horse had the ability to produce foun- 
tains by tramping on the ground, and Balder's fountain 
in Seeland is said to have originated in this manner (cp. 
P. E. Miiller on Saxo, Hist., 120). In Saxo, too, Balder 
gives rise to wells ( Victor Balderus, ut aiflictum siti mili- 
tem opportuni liquoris beneficio recrearet, novos humi 
latices terram altius rimatus operuit p. 120). 

This very circumstance seems to indicate that Phol, 
Fal, was a common epithet or surname of Balder in Ger- 
many, and it must be admitted that this meaning must 
have appeared to the German mythologists to be con- 
firmed by the Merseburg formula; for in this way alone 
could it be explained in a simple and natural manner, 
that Balder is not named in the first line as Odin's com- 
panion, although he actually attends Odin, and although 
the misfortune that befalls "Balder's foal" is the chief 
subject of the narrative, while Phol on the other hand 
is not mentioned again in the whole formula, although 
lie is named in the first line as Odin's companion. 

This simple and incontrovertible conclusion, that Phol 
and Balder in the Merseburg formula are identical is put 
beyond all doubt by a more thorough examination of the 
Norse records. In these it is demonstrated that the name 
Fair was also known in the North as an epithet of Balder. 

The first books of Saxo are based exclusively on the 
myths concerning gods and heroes. There is not a 
single person, not a single name, which Saxo did not 



borrow from the mythic traditions. Among them is also 
a certain Fjallerus, who is mentioned in bk. i. 160. In 
the question in regard to the Norse form which was 
Latinised into Fjallerus, we must remember that Saxo 
writes Hjallus (Hist., pp. 371, 672) for Hjaii (cp. p. 
370), and alternately Colo, Collo, and Collerus (Hist., 
pp. 56, 136, 181), and that he uses the broken form 
Bjarbi for Barri (Hist., p. 250). In accordance with 
this the Latin form Fjallerus must correspond to the Norse 
Fair, and there is, in fact, in the whole Old Norse litera- 
ture, not a single name to be found corresponding to this 
excepting Fair, for the name Fjalarr, the only other one 
to be thought of in this connection should, according to 
the rules followed by Saxo, be Latinised into Fjallarus or 
Fjalarus, but not into Fjallerus. 

Of this Fjallerus Saxo relates that he was banished by 
an enemy, and the report says that Fjallerus betook him- 
self to the place which is unknown to our populations, 
and which is called Oddins-akr (quern ad locum, cui 
Undensakre nomen est, nostris ignotum populis concess- 
isse est fama p. 160.) 

The mythology mentions only a single person who by 
an enemy was transferred to Odainsakr, and that is Bal- 
der. (Of Odainsakr and Balder's abode there, see Nos. 

The enemy who transfers Fair to the realm of immor- 
tality is, according to Saxo, a son of Horvendillus, that is 
to say, a son of the mythological Orvandill, Groa's 
husband and Svipdag's father (see Nos. 108, 109). 
Svipdag has already once before been mistaken by Saxo 



for Hofkerus (see No. 101). Hotherus is, again, the 
Latin form for Hodr. Hence it is Balder' s banishment 
by Hodr to the subterranean realms of immortality of 
which we here read in Saxo where the latter speaks of 
Fal's banishment to Oddinsakr by a son of Orvandel. 

When Balder dies by a flaug hurled by Hodr he stands 
in the midst of a rain of javelins. He is the centre of a 
mannhringr, where all throw or shoot at him: sumir 
skjota a hann, sumir hoggva til, sumir berja grjoti 
(Gylfaginning). In this lies the mythical explanation 
of the paraphrase Fal's rain, which occurs in the last 
strophe of a poem attributed to the skald Gisle Surson. 
Jn Gisle's saga we read that he was banished on account 
of manslaughter, but by the aid of his faithful wife he 
was able for thirteen years to endure a life of persecutions 
and conflicts, until he finally was surprised and fell by the 
weapons of his foes. Surrounded by his assailants, he 
as said to have sung the strophe in question, in which 
he says that "the beloved, beautiful, brave Fulla of his 
hall," that is to say, his wife, "is to enquire for him, her 
friend," for whose sake "Fal's rain" now "falls thick and 
fast," while "keen edges bite him." In a foregoing 
strophe Gisle has been compared with a "Balder of the 
shield," and this shield-Balder now, as in the Balder of 
the myth, is the focus of javelins and swords, while he 
like Balder, has a beautiful and faithful wife, who, like 
Nanna, is to take his death to heart. If the name Nanna, 
as has been assumed by Vigfusson and others, is con- 
nected with the verb nenna, and means "the brave one," 
then rekkildt Fulla, "the brave Fulla of Gisle's hall," is 



an all the more appropriate reference to Nanna, since Fulla 
and she are intimately connected in the mythology, and 
are described as the warmest of friends (Gylfagining). 
Briefly stated: in the poem Gisle is compared with Bal- 
der, his wife with Nanna, his death with Balder's death, 
and the rain of weapons by which he falls with Pal's 

In a strophe composed by Refr (Younger Edda ? i. 240) 
the skald offers thanks to Odin, the giver of the skaldic 
art. The Asa-father is here called Pals Urannvala brau^ 
tar fannar salar valdi ("The ruler of the hall of the drift 
of the way of the billow-falcons of Fal"). This long 
paraphrase means, as has also been assumed by others, 
the ruler of heaven. Thus heaven is designated as "the 
hall of the drift of the way of the billow-falcons of Fal." 
The "drift" which belongs to heaven, and not to the earth, 
is the cloud. The heavens are "the hall of the cloud." 
But in order that the word "drift" might be applied in 
this manner it had to be united with an appropriate word, 
showing that the heavens were meant. This is done by 
the adjective phrase "of the way of the billow-falcons of 
Fal." Standing alone, "the drift of the way of the bil- 
low-falcons" could not possibly mean anything else than 
the billow white with foam, since "billow-falcons" is a 
paraphrase for ships, and the "way of the billow-falcons" 
is a paraphrase for the sea. By adding the name Pair 
the meaning is changed from "sea" to "sky." By Fal's 
"billow-falcons" must therefore be meant objects whose 
course is through the air, just as the course of the ships 
is on the sea, and which traverse the drift of the sky, 



the cloud, just as the ships plough through the drift of 
the sea, the white-crested billow. Such a paraphrase 
could not possibly avoid drawing the fancy of the hear- 
ers and readers to the atmosphere strewn with clouds 
and penetrated by sunbeams, that is, to Odin's hall. 
Balder is a sun-god, as his myth, taken as a whole, plainly 
shows, and as is manifested by his epithet: raudbrikar 
rikr rczkir (see No. 53). Thus Fal, like Balder, is a 
divinity of the sun, a being which sends the sunbeams 
down through the drifts of the clouds. As he, further- 
more, like Balder, stood in a rain of weapons under cir- 
cumstances sufficiently familiar for such a rain to be rec- 
ognised when designated as Fal's, and as he, finally, like 
Balder, was sent by an opponent to the realm of immor- 
tality in the lower world, then Fair and Balder must be 

Their identity is furthermore confirmed by the fact 
that Balder in early Christian times was made a histori- 
cal king of Westphalia. The statement concerning this, 
taken from Anglo-Saxon or German sources, has entered 
into the foreword to Gylfaginning. Nearly all lands and 
peoples have, according to the belief of that time, received 
their names from -ancient chiefs. The Franks were said 
to be named after one Francio, the East Goth after Ostro- 
gotha, the Angles after Angul, Denmark after Dan, &c. 
The name Phalia, Westphalia, was explained in the same 
manner, and as Balder's name was Phol, Fal, this name 
of his gave rise to the name of the country in question. 
For the same reason the German poem Biterolf makes 
Balder (Paltram) into king ze Pulle. (Compare the 



local name Polde, which, according to J. Grimm, is found 
in old manuscripts written Polidi and Pholidi.) In the 
one source Balder is made a king in Pholidi, since Phol is 
a name of Balder, and in the other source he is for the 
same reason made a king in Westphalia, since Phal is a 
variation of Phol, and likewise designated Balder. "Bit- 
erolf" has preserved the record of the fact that Balder 
was not only the stateliest hero to be found, but also the 
most pure in morals, and a man much praised. Along 
with Balder, Gylfaginning speaks of another son of Odin, 
Siggi, who is said to have become a king in Frankland. 
The same reason for which Fal-Balder was made a king 
in Westphalia also made the apocryphal Siggi in question 
the progenitor of Frankian kings. The Frankian branch 
to which the Merovingian kings belonged bore the name 
Sigambrians, and to explain this name the son Siggi was 
given to Odin, and he was made the progenitor and 
eponym of the Sigambrians. 

After this investigation which is to be continued more 
elaborately in another volume, I now return to the Merse- 
burg formula : 

"Fall and Odin 
Went to the wood, 
Then the foot was sprained 
Of Balder's foal." 

With what here is said about Balder's steed, we must 
compare what Saxo relates about Balder himself : Adeo 
in adversam corporis valetudinem incidit, ut ni pedibus 
quidem incedere posset (Hist., 120). 

The misfortune which happened first to Balder and then 



to Balder's horse must be counted among the warnings 
which foreboded the death of the son of Odin. There 
are also other passages which indicate that Balder's horse 
must have had a conspicuous signification in the mythol- 
ogy, and the tradition concerning Balder as rider is pre- 
served not only in northern sources (Lokasenna, Gyl- 
faginning) , and in the Merseburg formula, but also in the 
German poetry of the middle ages. That there was some 
witchcraft connected with this misfortune which hap- 
pened to Balder's horse is evident from the fact that the 
magic songs sung by the goddesses accompanying him 
availed nothing. According to the Norse ancient records, 
the women particularly exercise the healing art of witch- 
craft (compare Groa and Sigrdrifva), but still Odin has 
the profoundest knowledge of the secrets of this art ; he is 
galdrs fadir (Veg., 3). And so Odin comes in this in- 
stance, and is successful after the goddesses have tried 
in vain. We must fancy that the goddesses make haste 
to render assistance in the order in which they ride in 
relation to Balder, for the event would lose its serious- 
ness if we should conceive Odin as being very near to 
Balder from the beginning, but postponing his activity 
in order to shine afterwards with all the greater magic 
power, which nobody disputed. 

The goddesses constitute two pairs of sisters: Sinht- 
gunt and her sister Sunna, and Frigg and her sister Fulla. 
According to the Norse sources, Frigg is Balder's mother. 
According to the same records, Fulla is always near 
Frigg, enjoys her whole confidence, and wears a diadem 
as a token of her high rank among the goddesses. An 



explanation of this is furnished by the Merseburg for- 
mula, which informs us that Fulla is Frigg's sister, and 
so a sister of Balder's mother. And as Odin is Balder's 
father, we find in the Merseburg formula the Balder of 
the Norse records, surrounded by the kindred assigned 
to him in these records. 

Under such circumstances it would be strange, indeed, 
if Sinhtgunt and the sun-dis, Sunna, did not also belong 
to the kin of the sun-god, Balder, as they not only take 
part in this excursion of the Balder family, but are also 
described as those nearest to him, and as the first who 
give him assistance. 

The Norse records have given to Balder as wife Nanna, 
daughter of that divinity which under Odin's supremacy 
is the ward of the atmosphere and the owner of the moon- 
ship. If the continental Teutons in their mythological 
conceptions also gave Balder a wife devoted and faithful 
as Nanna, then it would be in the highest degree im- 
probable that the Merseburg formula should not let her 
be one of those who, as a body-guard, attend Balder on 
his expedition to the forest. Besides Frigg and Fulla, 
there are two goddesses who accompany Balder. One 
of them is a sun-dis, as is evident from the name Sunna ; 
the other, Sinhtgunt, is, according to Bugge's discrimi- 
nating interpretation of this epithet, the dis "who night 
after night has to battle her way." A goddess who is 
the sister of the sun-dis, but who not in the daytime but 
in the night has to battle on her journey across the sky, 
must be a goddess of the moon, a moon-dis. This moon- 
goddess is the one who is nearest at hand to bring assist- 



ance to Balder. Hence she can be none else than Nanna, 
who we know is the daughter of the owner of the moon- 
ship. The fact that she has to battle her way across the 
sky is explained by the Norse mythic statement, accord- 
ing to which the wolf-giant Hate is greedy to capture the 
moon, and finally secures it as his prey (Voluspa, Gyl- 
faginning). In the poem about Helge Hjorvardson, 
which is merely a free reproduction of the materials in 
the Balder-myth (which shall be demonstrated in the 
second part of this work), the giant Hate is conquered 
by the hero of the poem, a Balder figure, whose wife is a 
dis, who, "white" herself, has a shining horse (str. 25, 
28), controls weather and harvests (str. 28), and makes 
nightly journeys on her steed, and "inspects the harbours" 
(str. 25). 

The name Nanna (from the verb nenna; cp. Vigfus- 
son, Lex.} means "the brave one." With her husband 
she has fought the battles of light, and in the Norse, as 
in the Teutonic, mythology, she was with all her tender- 
ness a heroine. 

" The Merseburg formula makes the sun-dis and the 
moon-dis sisters. The Norse variation of the Teutonic 
myth has done the same. Vafthrudnersmal and Gyl- 
faginning (ch. 11) inform us that the divinities which 
govern the chariots of the sun and moon were brother 
and sister, but from the masculine form Mdni Gylfagin- 
ning has drawn the false conclusion that the one who 
governed the car of the moon was not a sister but a 
brother of the sun. In the mythology a masculine divin- 
ity Mdni was certainly known, but he was the father of 



the sun-dis and moon-dis, and identical with Gevarr- 
Nckkvi-Nefr, the owner of the moon-ship. The god 
Mdni is the father of the sun-dis for the same reason as 
Nat is the mother of Dag. 

Vafthrudnersmal informs us that the father of the 
managers of the sun- and moon-cars was called Mundil- 
fori. We are already familiar with this mythic person- 
ality (see Nos. 81-83) as the one who is appointed to 
superintend the mechanism of the world, by whose Mon- 
dull the starry firmament is revolved. It is not probable 
that the power governing the motion of the stars is any 
other than the one who under Odin's supremacy is ruler 
of the sun and moon, and ward of all the visible phenom- 
ena in space, among which are also the stars. As, by 
comparison of the old records, we have thus reached the 
conclusion that the managers of the sun and moon are 
daughters of the ward of the atmosphere, and as we 
have also learned that they are daughters of him who 
superintends the motion of the constellations, we are 
unable to see anything but harmony in these statements. 
Mundilfori and Gevarr-Nokkvi-Nefr are the same per- 

It should be added that the moon-goddess, like her 
father, could be called Mdni without there being any ob- 
stacle in the masculine form of the word. The name of 
the goddess Skadi is also masculine in form, and is in- 
flected as a masculine noun (oblique case, Skada 
Younger Edda, 212, 268). 




In the preceding pages various scattered contributions 
have been made to Teutonic cosmography, and particu- 
larly to the topography of the lower world. It may not 
be out of the way to gather and complete these frag- 

The world-tree's three roots, which divide themselves 
in the lower world and penetrate through the three lower- 
world fountains into the foundations of the world- 
structure and hold it together, stand in a direction from 
north to south the northernmost over the Hvergelmer 
fountain, with its cold waters; the middle one over Mi- 
mer's well, which is the fountain of spiritual forces; and 
the third over Urd's well, whose liquids give warmth to 
Ygdrasil (see No. 63). 

In a north and south direction stands likewise the 
bridge Bifrost, also called Bilrost, Asbru (Grimnersmal, 
29), and in a bold paraphrase, hitherto not understood, 
tkiodvitnis User, "the fish of the folk-wolf." The para- 
phrase occurs in Grimnersmal (21) in its description of 
Valhal and other abodes of the gods: 

thytr thund, 
unir thiodvitnis 
fiscr flodi i 
arstraumr thickir 
valglaumi at vatha. 

"Thund (the air-river) roars. The fish of the folk- 



wolf stands secure in the stream. To the noisy crowd of 
sword-fallen men the current seems too strong to wade 

It has already been shown (No. 65) that those fallen 
by the sword ride with their psychopomps on Bifrost up 
to Valhal, and do not proceed thither through space, but 
have a solid foundation for the hoofs of their steeds. 
Here, as in Fafnersmal (15), the air is compared with a 
river, in which the horses are compelled to wade or 
swim if the bridge leading to Asgard is not used, and the 
current in this roaring stream is said to be very strong; 
while, on the other hand, "the fish" stands safe and in- 
viting therein. That the author of Grimnersmal called 
the bridge a fish must seem strange, but has its natural 
explanation in Icelandic usage, which called every bridge- 
end or bridge-head a spordr, that is, a fish-tail. Compare 
Sigrdrifumal (16), which informs us that runes were 
risted on "the fish-tail" of the great mythic bridge (a 
bruar spordi), and the expression bruarspordr (bridge- 
head, bridge-"fish-tail") in Njala (246) and Biskupa, s. 
(1, 17). As a bridge-pier could be called a fish-tail, 
it was perfectly logical for the poem to make the bridge 
a fish. On the zenith of the bridge stands Valhal, that 
secures those fallen in battle, and whose entrance is dec- 
orated with images of the wolf and of the eagle (Grim- 
nersmal, 10), animals that satisfy their hunger on the 
field of battle. This explains why the fish is called that 
of the folk-wolf or great wolf. The meaning of the 
paraphrase is simply "the Valhal bridge." That the 
bow of Bifrost stands north and south follows from the 



fact that the gods pass over one end of the bridge on 
their way to Urd's fountain, situated in the south of the 
lower world, while the other end is outside of Niefelhel, 
situated in the north. From the south the gods come to 
their judgment-seats in the realm of the dis of fate and 
death. From the north came, according to Vegtams- 
kvida, Odin when he rode through Nifelhel to that hall 
which awaited Balder. Why the Asa-father on that oc- 
casion chose that route Vegtamskvida does not inform 
us. But from Saxo (Hist. Dan., 126), who knew an 
old heathen song about Odin's visit in the lower world 
on account of Balder's death, we get light on this point. 
According to this song* it was Rostiophus Phinnicus 
who told Odin that a son of the latter and Rind was to 
avenge Balder's death. Rostiophus is, as P. E. Miiller 
has already remarked, the rimthurs Hrossthiofr men- 
tioned in Hyndluljod as a son of Hrimnir and brother 
of the sorceress Heidr, the vala and witch well known 
from Voluspa and other sources. Nifelhel is, as shown 
above (No. 60), the abode of the rimthurses transferred 
to the lower world. Where his father Hrimnir (Ber- 
gelmer) and his progenitor Hrimgrimnir (Thrudgelmer) 
dwell in the thurs-hall mentioned in Skirnersmal, there 
we also find Hrossthiofr, and Odin must there seek him. 
Vegtamskvida makes Odin seek his sister. 

It is Bifrost's north bridge-head which particularly 

Possibly the same as that of which a few strophes are preserved in 
Baldrs draumar, an old poetic fragment whose gaps have been filled in a 
very unsatisfactory manner in recent times with strophes which now are 
current as Vegtamskvida. That Odin, when he is about to proceed to the 
abode which in the subterranean realms of bliss is to receive Balder, chooses 
the route through Nifelhel is explained not by Vegtamskvida, where this 
fact is stated, but by the older poem mentioned by Saxo, which makes him 
seek the dweller in Nifelhel, the rimthurs Hrossthiofr, son of Hrimnir. 



requires the vigilance of Heimdal, the ward of the gods, 
since the rimthurses and the damned are its neighbours. 
Heimdal is therefore "widely known" among the in- 
habitants of Nifelhel ( Skirnersmal, 28), and T/oke re- 
proaches Heimdal that his vocation as watchman always 
compels him to expose his back to the torrents of an un- 
favourable sky (Lokas., 48). In the night which con- 
stantly broods over this northern zone shine the forms of 
the "white" god and of his gold-beaming horse Gull- 
toppr, when he makes spying expeditions there. His 
eye penetrates the darkness of a hundred "rasts," and his 
ear catches the faintest sound (Gylfag., 27). Near 
Bifrost, presumably at the very bridge-head, mythology 
has given him a fortified citadel, Himinbjorg, "the ward 
of heaven," with a comfortable hall well supplied with 
"the good mead" (Grimn., 13; Gylfag., 27). 

The lower world is more extensive in all directions than 
the surface of the earth above it. Bifrost would not be 
able to pass outside and below the crust of the earth to 
rest with its bridge-heads on the domain of the three 
world-fountains if this were not the case. The lower 
world is therefore called Jormungrund, "the great ground 
or foundation" (Forspjallsljod, 25), and its uttermost 
zone, jadarr Jormungrundar, "the domain of the great 
ground," is open to the celestial canopy, and the under 
side of the earth is not its roof. From Hlidskjalf, the 
outlook of the gods in Asgard (Forspjallsljod, the prose 
texts in Skirnersmal and in Grimnersmal), the view is 
open to Midgard, to the sea, and to the giant-world situ- 
ated beyond the Elivagar rivers (see the texts mentioned), 



and should accordingly also be so to the broad zone of 
Jormungrimd, excepting its northernmost part, which 
always is shrouded in night. From Hlidskjalf the eye 
cannot discern what is done there. But Heimdal keeps 
watch there, and when anything unusual is perceived 
Odin sends the raven Huginn (Hugr) thither to spy it 
out (Forspjallsljod, 10, 3, which strophes belong to- 
gether). But from Hlidskjalf as the point of observa- 
tion the earth conceals all that part of Jormungrund be- 
low it; and as it is important to Odin that he should 
know all that happens there, Huginn and Muninn fly 
daily over these subterranean regions : Huginn oc Muninn 
fljuga huerjan dag iormungrund yfir (Grimnersmal, 
20). The expeditions of the ravens over Nifelhel in 
the north and over Surt's "deep dales" in the south ex- 
pose them to dangers : Odin expresses his fear that some 
misfortune may befall them on these excursions (Grim- 
nersmal, 20). 

In the western and eastern parts of jadarr Jormun- 
grundar dwell the two divine clans the Vans and Elves, 
and the former rule over the whole zone ever since "the 
gods in time's morning," gave Frey, Njord's bounteous 
son, Alfheim as a tooth-gift (Grimners., 5). Delling 
is to be regarded as clan-chief of the Elves (light-Elves), 
since in the very theogony he is ranked with the most 
ancient powers. With Mimer's daughter Nat he be- 
comes the father of Dag and the progenitor of Dag's 
synir (the light-Elves). It has already been empha- 
sised (see No. 53) that he is the lord of the rosy-dawn, 
and that outside of his doors the song of awakening is 



sung every morning over the world: "Power to the 
Asas, success to the Elves, and wisdom to Hroptatyr" 
(Havamal, 100). The glow of dawn blazes up from 
his domain beyond the eastern horizon. Where this 
clan-chieftain of the Elves dwells, thither the mythology 
has referred the original home of his clan. Alfheimr 
occupies the eastern part of Jormungrund's zone. It is 
in the eastern part that Dag, Delling's son, and Sol, his 
kinswoman, mount their chariots to make their journey 
around the earth in the sky. Here is also the Hel-gate 
through which all the dead must pass in the lower world 
(No. 68). 

There are many proofs that the giant settlement with 
the Ironwood or Myrkwood was conceived as extending 
from the north over large portions of the east (Voluspa, 
39, 48, &c.). These regions of Alfheim constitute the 
southern coasts of the Elivagar, and are the scenes of 
important events in the epic of the mythology (see the 
treatise on the Ivalde race). 

Vanaheimr is situated in the western half of the zone. 
At the banquet in ZEgir's hall described in Lokasenna, 
Loke says to Njord : 

thu vast austr hedan 
gisl um sendr godum- 

"From here you were sent out east as a hostage to the 

yEgir's hall is far out in the depths of the sea. The 
ocean known by the Teutons was the North Sea. The 
author has manifestly conceived ^Egir's hall as situated 



in the same direction from Asgard as Vanaheim, and not 
far from the native home of the Vans. This lies in the 
word hedan (from here). According to Vafthrudners- 
mal (str. 39), Njord was "created in Vanaheim by wise 
regin." When he was sent as a hostage to the gods to 
Asgard he had to journey eastward (austr). The west- 
ern location of Vanaheim is thereby demonstrated. 

In the "western halls" of Vanaheim dwells Billing, 
Rind's father, the father of the Asa-god, Vale's mother 
(Rindr berr Vala i vcestrsolum Vegt, 11). His name 
has been preserved in both the German and the Anglo- 
Saxon mythic records. An Old German document men- 
tions together Billunc and Nidunc, that is, Billing and 
Mimer (see No. 87). In the mythology Mimer's do- 
main is bounded on the west by Billing's realm, and on 
the east by Delling's. Belling is Mimer's son-in-law. 
According to Voluspa, 13 (Codex Hauk.), Billing is a 
being which in time's morning, on the resolve of the gods, 
was created by Modsognir-Mimer and Durinn. Mimer's 
neighbours in the east and in the west were therefore in- 
timately connected with him. An Anglo-Saxon record 
(Codex Exoniensis, 320, 7) makes Billing the race- 
hero of the kinsmen and neighbours of the Angles, the 
Varnians (Billing veold Vernum). This too has a 
mythological foundation, as appears in Grimnersmal (39) 
and in the saga of Helge Hjorvardson, which, as be- 
fore stated, is composed of mythic fragments. When 
Sol and Mane leave Delling's domain and begin their 
march across the heavens, their journey is not without 
danger. From the Ironwood (cp. Voluspa, 39) come 



the wolf-giants Skoll and Hate and pursue them. Skoll 
does not desist from the pursuit before the car of the 
bright- faced goddess has descended toward the western 
halls and reached Varna vidr (Scaull heitir ulfr, er fylgir 
eno scirleita godi til Varna vidar Grimnersmal, 39). 
Varna vidr is the forest of the mythic Varnians or Varin- 
ians. Varnians, Varinians, means "defenders," and the 
protection here referred to can be none other than that 
given to the journeying divinities of light when they have 
reached the western horizon. According to Helge 
Hjorvardson's saga, Hate, who pursues the moon, is 
slain near Varin's Bay. Varinn, the "defender," "pro- 
tector," is the singular form of the same word as reap- 
pears in the genitive plural Varna. These expressions 
Billing veold Vernum, Varna vidr, and Varins ink are 
to be considered as belonging together. So also the local 
names borrowed from the mythology, Varinsfjordr and 
Varinsey, in Helge Hjorvardson's saga, where several 
names reappear, e.g., Svarinn, Moinn, Alfr, and Yngvi, 
which in connection with that of Billing occur in the list 
of the beings created by Mimer and Durinn. It is mani- 
fest that Varna vidr, where the wolf Skoll is obliged to 
turn back from his pursuit of Sol, and that Varins vik, 
where the moon's pursuer Hate is conquered, were con- 
ceived in the mythology as situated in the western hori- 
zon, since the sun and the moon making their journey 
from the east to west on the heavens are pursued and are 
not safe before they reach the western halls. And now 
as Billing dwells in the western halls and is remembered 
in the Anglo-Saxon mythic fragments as the prince of 

23 699 


the Varnians or Varinians, and as, furthermore, Varins- 
fjordr and Varinsey are connected with adventures in 
which there occur several names of mythic persons be- 
longing to Billing's clan, then this proves absolutely an 
original mythic connection between Billing and his west- 
ern halls and those western halls in whose regions Varna, 
vidr and Varinsvik are situated, and where the divinities 
of light, their journey athwart the sky accomplished, find 
defenders and can take their rest. And when we add 
to this that Delling, Mimer's kinsman and eastern neigh- 
bour, is the lord of morning and the rosy dawn, and that 
Billing is Mimer's kinsman and western neighbour, then 
it follows that Billing, from the standpoint of a symbol 
of nature, represents the evening and the glow of twi- 
light, and that in the epic he is ruler of those regions 
of the world where the divinities of light find rest and 
peace. The description which the Havamal strophes 
(97-101) give us of life in Billing's halls corresponds 
most perfectly with this view. Through the epic pre- 
sentation there gleams, as it seems, a conscious symbolis- 
ing of nature, which paints to the fancy the play of col- 
ours in the west when the sun is set. When eventide 
comes Billing's lass, "the sun-glittering one," sleeps on 
her bed (Billings mey ec fann bedjwm a solhvita sofa 
str. 97). In his halls Billing has a body-guard of war- 
riors, his saldrott, vigdrott (str. 100, 101), in whom we 
must recognise those Varnians who protect the divinities 
of light that come to his dwelling, and these warriors 
watch far into the night, "with burning lights and with 
torches in their hands," over the slumbering "sun-white" 



maiden. But when day breaks their services are no 
longer necessary. Then they in their turn go to sleep 
(Oc n<zr morni . . Jhd var saldrott um sofin str. 101). 
When the Asas all on horseback excepting Thor 
on their daily journey to the thingstead near Urd's foun- 
tain, have reached the southern rune-risted bridge-head 
of Bifrost, they turn to the north and ride through a 
southern Hel-gate into the lower world proper. Here, 
in the south, and far below Jormungrund's southern zone, 
we must conceive those "deep dales" where the fire-giant 
Surt dwells with his race, Suttung's sons (not Muspel's 
sons) . The idea presented in Gylfaginning's cosmogony, 
according to which there was a world of fire in the south 
and a world of cold in the north of that Ginungagap in 
which the world was formed, is certainly a genuine myth, 
resting on a view of nature which the very geographical 
position forced upon the Teutons. Both these border 
realms afterwards find their representatives in the or- 
ganised world : the fire-world in Surfs Sokkdalir, and the 
frost-world in the Nifelhel incorporated with the escha- 
tological places; and as the latter constitutes the north- 
ern part of the realm of death, we may in analogy here- 
with refer the dales of Surt and Suttung's sons to the 
south, and we may do this without fear of error, for 
Voluspa (50) states positively that Surt and his de- 
scendants come from the south to the Ragnarok conflict 
(Surtr fer sunan med sviga Icefi). While the northern 
bridge-head of Bifrost is threatened by the rimthurses, 
the southern is exposed to attacks from Suttung's sons. 
In Ragnarok the gods have to meet storms from both 



quarters, and we must conceive the conflict as extending 
along Jormungrund's outer zone and especially near both 
ends of the Bi frost bridge. The plain around the south 
end of Bifrost where the gods are to "mix the liquor of 
the sword with Surt" is called Oskopnir in a part of a 
heathen poem incorporated with Fafnersmal. Here 
Frey with his hosts of einherjes meets Surt and Sut- 
tung's sons, and falls by the sword which once was his, 
after the arch of Bifrost on this side is already broken 
under the weight of the hosts of riders (Fafnersmal, 14, 
15; Voluspa, 51). Oskopnir's plain must therefore be 
referred to the south end of Bifrost and outside of the 
southern Hel-gate of the lower world. The plain is also 
called Vigridr (Vafthrudnersmal, 18), and is said to be 
one hundred rasts long each way. As the gods who here 
appear in the conflict are called in svaso god, "the sweet," 
and as Frey falls in the battle, those who here go to meet 
Surt and his people seem to be particularly Vana-gods 
and Vans, while those who contend with the giants and 
with Loke's progeny are chiefly Asas. 

When the gods have ridden through the southern 
Hel-gate, there lie before them magnificent regions over 
which Urd in particular rules, and which together with 
Mimer's domain constitute the realms of bliss in the lower 
world with abodes for departed children and women, 
and for men who were not chosen on the field of battle. 
Rivers flowing from Hvergelmer flow through Urd's 
domain after they have traversed Mimer's realm. The 
way leads the gods to the fountain of the norns, which 
waters the southern root of the world-tree, and over 



which Ygdrasil's lower branches spread their ever-green 
leaves, shading the gold-clad fountain, where swans swim 
and whose waters give the whitest colour to everything 
'that comes in contact therewith. In the vicinity of this 
fountain are the thingstead with judgment-seats, a tribu- 
nal, and benches for the hosts of people who daily arrive 
to be blessed or damned. 

These hosts enter through the Hel-gate of the east. 
They traverse deep and dark valleys, and come to a thorn- 
grown plain against whose pricks Hel-shoes protect those 
who were merciful in their life on earth, and thence to 
the river mixed with blood, which in its eddies whirls 
weapons and must be waded over by the wicked, but 
can be crossed by the good on the drift-wood which floats 
on the river. When this river is crossed the way of the 
dead leads southward to the thingstead of the gods. 

Further up there is a golden bridge across the river to 
the glorious realm where Mimer's holt and the glittering 
halls are situated, in which Balder and the dsmegir await 
the regeneration. Many streams come from Hvergel- 
mer, among them Leiptr, on whose waters holy oaths 
are taken, and cast their coils around these protected 
places, whence sorrow, aging, and death are banished. 
The halls are situated in the eastern part of Mimer's 
realm in the domain of the elf of the rosy dawn, for he is 
their watchman. 

Further down in Mimer's land and under the middle 
root of the world-tree is the well of creative force and of 
inspiration, and near it are Mimer's own golden halls. 

Through this middle part of the lower world goes from 



west to east the road which Nat, Dag, Sol, and Mane 
travel from Billing's domain to Delling's. When the 
mother Nat whose car is drawn by Hrimfaxi makes her 
entrance through the western Hel-gate, darkness is dif- 
fused along her course over the regions of bliss and ac- 
companies her chariot to the north, where the hall of Sin- 
dre, the great artist, is located, and toward the Nida 
mountains, at whose southern foot Nat takes her rest in 
her own home. Then those who dwell in the northern 
regions of Jormungrund retire to rest (Forspjallsljod, 
25) ; but on the outer rim of Midgard there is life and ac- 
tivity, for there Dag's and Sol's cars then diffuse light 
and splendour on land and sea. The hall of Sindre's 
race has a special peculiarity. It is, as shall be shown 
below, the prototype of "the sleeping castle" mentioned 
in the sagas of the middle ages. 

Over the Nida mountains and the lands beyond them 
we find Ygdrasil's third root, watered by the Hvergelmer 
fountain, the mother of all waters. The Nida mountains 
constitute Jormungrund's great watershed, from which 
rivers rush down to the south and to the north. In 
Hvergelmer's fountain and above it the world-mill is 
built through whose mill-stone eye water rushes up and 
down, causing the maelstrom and ebb and flood tide, and 
scattering the meal of the mill over the bottom of the 
sea. Nine giantesses march along the outer edge of the 
world pushing the mill-handle before them, while the 
mill and the starry heavens at the same time are re- 

Where the Elivagar rivers rise out of Hvergelmer, 



and on the southern strand of the mythic Gandvik, is 
found a region which, after one of its inhabitants, is called 
He's pasture (setr Younger Bdda, i. 292). Here 
dwells warriors of mixed elf and giant blood (see the 
treatise on the Ivalde race), who received from the gods 
the task of being a guard of protection against the neigh- 
bouring giant-world. 

Farther toward the north rise the Nida mountains and 
form the steep wall which constitutes Nifelhel's southern 
boundary. In this wall are the Na-gates, through which 
the damned when they have died their second death are 
brought into the realm of torture, whose ruler is Leikinn. 
Nifelheim is inhabited by the spirits of the primeval 
giants, by the spirits of disease, and by giants who have 
fallen in conflict with the gods. Under Nifelhel extend 
the enormous caves in which the various kinds of crimi- 
nals are tortured. In one of these caves is the torture 
hall of the Nastrands. Outside of its northern door is a 
grotto guarded by swarthy elves. The door opens to 
Armsvartner's sea, over which eternal darkness broods. 
In this sea lies the Lyngve-holm, within whose jurisdic- 
tion Loke, Fenrer, and "Muspel's sons" are fettered. 
Somewhere in the same region Bifrost descends to its 
well fortified northern bridge-head. The citadel is called 
Himinbjdrg, "the defence or rampart of heaven." Its 
chieftain is Heimdal. 

While Bifrost's arch stands in a direction from north 
to south, the way on which Mane and Sol travel across 
the heavens goes from east to west. Mane's way is be- 
low Asgard. 



The movable starry heaven is not the only, nor is it 
the highest, canopy stretched over all that has been men- 
tioned above. One can go so far to the north that even 
the horizon of the starry heavens is left in the rear. 
Outside, the heavens Andlanger and Vidblainn support 
their edges against Jormungrund (Gylfag., 17). All 
this creation is supported by the world-tree, on whose 
topmost bough the cock Vidofner glitters. 

(Continuation of Part IV in Volume II L)